Chapter VII: Revelations

Rekai Leon

New Member
Faron Firestorm

- The Fiery Brawler -

Faron cautiously entered the ruin along with his crew. He decided to keep his golem in case of a surprise attack from the dragon, just like the time before. It was possible that the dragon had been living there all along, and it was being stealthy until there was a perfect chance to strike. The golem followed Faron as quietly as possible, though its footsteps could still be heard quite clearly.

"Yes," Commander Rains agreed. "This is not necessarily the place. If not, even better. We could use it as base camp. Prepare for the hunt. But first we need to make sure it's safe. Lair or not, we can't exclude the possibility of the beast lurking around. Spread out and investigate! Varys, try to get to higher ground. We need eyes from above."
He wondered if it was safe to spread out, because they would have been stronger if they had stuck together. However, he believed that they would probably be okay with the observation from Varys. The Drakkar then started to look around while still keeping a relatively safe distance from his teammates, hoping that he would be able to find something interesting.
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


When he was a younger dwarf, there had been a fellow acolyte training alongside Ingvar at the temple at Var'dur who once claimed that the Creator had visited him with a personal message in a dream. Excited at the prospect of a new revelation from the Creator himself, he had questioned him endlessly, and while initially pleased with the attention, the foolish acolyte gradually became nervous and irate at the dwarf's interrogation as his answers became increasingly more inconsistent with Creationist teachings. Eventually, to Ingvar's disappointment, it came out that it was in fact just a fanciful dream and that there was no new revelation - an early lesson against trusting too much in subjective experiences, as emotions and desires made fools of the wisest men.

Yet this, this experience was so visceral, so irrefutable that he could not even in his deepest cynicism hold onto his doubts that the creature upon which he was currently soaring through the air was a work of the Creator. The radiant fur beneath his hands may as well have been made of divine light, for the sensation was unfailingly the same as each time he called on the Creator's name to intervene in his world through his Miracles. As dwarf and wolf ascended towards the frozen sky, leaving the hellish hounds to crawl about their dwelling place at the bottom of the abyss, a kind of immense elation filled his senses, so powerful it was that it compelled one to laugh and weep at the same time.

Oh, what sorrow it is to live in blind ignorance of the Creator, he marvelled, when such joy springs from knowledge of his works!

Soon the winged wolf slowed its ascent - surprisingly stopping short of the bridge and instead swerving away around halfway up the cliff face - and landed on a ledge beside what appeared to be an opening into a passage that led further into the mountain. Upon setting down, the wolf made to shake its rider off and Ingvar obliged, sliding off the creature's back while taking care not to tear out any of its fur on the way. He turned to meet the wolf's emerald gaze one last time.

'Thank you, friend,' he said with fond reverence. 'May the Creator grace you with his protection that your flight be swift and true.'

At this, the creature took wing and flew into the air, and Ingvar watched until he could no longer discern its white fur against the brightness of the sky above.

Now... what am I to do here? he mused as he looked about at the tunnel where he'd been dropped off. I would not imagine the Winged Wolf to have placed me here instead of the bridge for no reason. There must be some purpose that I am to serve here.

Placing a hand on the edge of the tunnel entrance, he held up the now rejuvenated Light in his free palm to try and peer into the darkness. Seeing nothing other than a continuing path through, he gave a mental shrug. Well, might as well begin walking and see where I end up.

The dwarf had spent many long years traversing dangerous trails and was well-equipped to pass without much impediment through the tunnel. The flight upon the Winged Wolf had bolstered his strength and rekindled his desire to push on in his journey, and with his impending death at the claws of the ominous crystalline creatures far behind him, he was starting to feel the excitement of adventure firing up within his bones. The path remained on a steady incline, ascending higher and higher until he could feel the cold draft grow stronger, indicating the presence of an exit nearby.

Yet instead of pushing onwards, Ingvar stopped in his tracks. Carried with the frosty breeze came sounds of clashing steel, shouts of alarm, of battle - there was a skirmish up ahead, yet this wasn't the main thing that gave him pause. Among the tense throes of conflict he detected the very familiar sensation of a Miracle being used.

A member of the Order? Here?

The moment he had sensed the signs of battle, he had instinctively extinguished his Light so as to not draw undue, but now he wondered if it would have been better if he had just kept it up.

Who could it be that a cleric has made their way into these mountains? he wondered.

Taking measured, unhurried steps towards the tunnel exit, he heard the sounds of fighting die down - whatever it is that they had been fighting, they were done with it. Unperturbed, he calmly stepped out into the light, keeping his slow, deliberate pace so as to not alarm whoever it was on the other side. He squinted slightly, allowing his eyes to adjust to the bright daylight, before casting a glance at the curious group of travellers levelling their weapons at him.

He took a moment to let the scene sink in before allowing his lips to break into a wry smile under his iron-grey beard. 'Well, I must say, this is a rather unusual choice for a designated meeting spot,' the old dwarf remarked, 'but it appears fitting that the Creator deemed it fitting to make it so. Ah, yes, my name... Ingvar Sindram, a servant of the Creator - a pleasure to meet you all. Well, as it generally is when you come across people who are still alive in these mountains,' he added pointedly.

He looked about at the group once more, as if trying to gauge just what the story was behind such a collection of individuals. 'But whom do I have the pleasure of addressing on this very, very cold day?' he asked eventually.
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
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Maggie stared openmouthed as the incoming potential threat turned out to be a dwarf, not more Azshari -- and even better, a fellow worshipper of the Maker! Lowering her staff, a delighted smile spreading over her features, the priestess stepped (skipped, almost) forward to greet him. "Hello!" she called, with a cheerfulness all the stronger for the anxiety she'd been holding at bay since they'd first climbed down to these tunnels. "Surely He must have had a hand in it, though I never would have expected to meet another priest of the Maker so far north, much less so far underground! But His light reaches everywhere." She beamed and gestured to each of the others in turn, starting with the shadow elf and human girl nearest her. "That's Violet, and Dina," she began, then turned to see who was next closest.* "And this is Carn, and Laurolf," gesturing to the drakkar and the dwarf already in the party. Looking around a little more, she found the human man who was the last of their group, "And that's Asher." Turning back to Ingvar, she smiled at him. "But what are you doing here all alone?"

*My personal guess, please let me know if this needs adjusting.
 
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Parrot Parfait

An Eclectus Parrot
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


As the steps grew closer, Carn tightened the grip on his implements, ready to strike out whatever may come across them. Contrary to Carn’s expectations, however, what entered the light was an ordinary dwarf, nothing like the accursed creatures encountered just moments ago. While breathing a sigh of relief, Carn eased his weapons to his side, carefully observing the dwarf with a sharp, mistrusting eye.

'Well, I must say, this is a rather unusual choice for a designated meeting spot,' the old dwarf remarked, 'but it appears fitting that the Creator deemed it fitting to make it so. Ah, yes, my name... Ingvar Sindram, a servant of the Creator - a pleasure to meet you all. Well, as it generally is when you come across people who are still alive in these mountains,' he added pointedly.

Upon hearing that the dwarf was a priest of the Creator, Carn’s suspicious gaze vanished, replaced with a more placid, lax demeanor. When Maggie made rounds introducing everyone to Ingvar, Carn gave a friendly gesture as Maggie pointed to him.

“Pleased to meet you,” Carn greeted. On most occasions, meeting a priest of the Creator was always a pleasant occasion for Carn. There was one thing bugging Carn, however. Why was a dwarf travelling through tunnels like these? This question spurred several conjectures and conclusions in Carn’s head, one of them being about the dragon hunters. A small, wistful hope formed in Carn’s heart. As such, when Maggie asked her question, Carn followed up immediately.

“And have you seen others travelling this mountain?” Carn questioned, half expecting that the dwarf wouldn’t have the answer Carn wanted.
 

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 tunnels under the Frostback Mountains



    Violet took longer to placate than the others. Even having watched as the presumed threat revealed itself to be not just a friendly dwarf, but a Creationist priest at that, she remained suspicious. As such, Maggie's opposite reaction shocked the elf more than a little. She uttered her name as if to warn her, but then gave up. Eventually she, too lowered her guard. Mostly.

    "And where did you come from? There's nothing but corruption in these depths, or so it seems, being only worse the lower one goes," she added to the list of questions.
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


"Hello!" she called, with a cheerfulness all the stronger for the anxiety she'd been holding at bay since they'd first climbed down to these tunnels. "Surely He must have had a hand in it, though I never would have expected to meet another priest of the Maker so far north, much less so far underground! But His light reaches everywhere."

Ingvar would not begrudge the priestess the warmth of a welcoming smile of his own at the sight of her coming forward to greet him with such unaffected delight. He did, however, wonder whether his imagination presumed upon the breath of tension he thought he heard give way to relief in her voice - the mountains had evidently not been kind to her and her companions. It pulled at his heart that a young believer need be grieved by the trials of the North - for trials they were indeed, even if it was in the wisdom of the good Creator that they were put in motion.

'As he has a hand in all things,' he nodded. 'and every day we are given anew the wonderful gift of learning and receiving more of him in the most unexpected ways. That he would bestow on me the joy of meeting a fellow sister of the faith in such circumstances fills me with great cheer. Truly, this encounter only reassures me that the hand that carved these treacherous mountains and crafted our trials thus far is that same hand which will guide us through them, according to his great will.'

She beamed and gestured to each of the others in turn, starting with the shadow elf and human girl nearest her. "That's Violet, and Dina," she began, then turned to see who was next closest.* "And this is Carn, and Laurolf," gesturing to the drakkar and the dwarf already in the party.
When Maggie made rounds introducing everyone to Ingvar, Carn gave a friendly gesture as Maggie pointed to him.

“Pleased to meet you,” Carn greeted.

The dwarf followed the priestess' gestures as she named the various members of her party, returning the drakkar's wave with one of his own before his gaze paused briefly on Laurolf.

Laurolf... where have I heard it before? he mused, rifling through his memories for anything familiar. Was not that young Runemaster of Goliath called by such a name? I don't think I've ever actually laid eyes on his face... or perhaps I'm getting to the age where the memory of one dwarf face just blends into the next. The universality of beards on dwarves make it particularly unhelpful - every male old enough to grow one has one.

Looking around a little more, she found the human man who was the last of their group, "And that's Asher." Turning back to Ingvar, she smiled at him. "But what are you doing here all alone?"

Ingvar had barely had a chance to register the bleak-looking young man before the priestess inquired of him, and he began to answer, 'Hm, if I were to start at-'

“And have you seen others travelling this mountain?” Carn questioned, half expecting that the dwarf wouldn’t have the answer Carn wanted.

Only slightly thrown by the sudden interjection, he spoke again, '...Well, as a matter of fact-'

"And where did you come from? There's nothing but corruption in these depths, or so it seems, being only worse the lower one goes," she added to the list of questions.

Interrupted for the second time, Ingvar paused, and gave a bubbling laugh - openly amused, yet not mocking in cadence. I have let slip from my mind that these mountains are a fearful and treacherous place, he thought to himself. No matter how weathered a mind and stubborn a resolve, these friends have been tested by their own fears and tribulations, whether it is of the body, the mind or the spirit. When was the last time they came across a kind soul that was not one of their own?

The laughter settled in his belly, though a wide smile could still be seen through his iron-grey beard. 'What joy it would bring to the Creator if such thirst for answers reflected one's hunger for knowledge of him and his wondrous creations!' he remarked jovially. 'Well, let me put your curiosity at ease. Though I am before you as you see me - a lone traveller - my primary purpose for daring these mountains was in search for a certain edifice, a temple, following my discovery of a rather fascinating map.'

His eyes began to sparkle as he went on, 'It's quite wonderful really, I first came across mention of the mountain temple through a transcription of some verse by what I imagine could be one of the monks actually serving at the temple, if my dating of the document in question is corre-'

He stopped himself, having enough sense to realise that it probably wasn't quite the right mood to talk about the historiography of old maps and song manuscripts. 'In any case, I was under arrangement to serve as guide to a fine company of huntsmen travelling to that same temple in pursuit of a certain quarry, and a rather perilous quarry at that. Indeed, you may already be aware of it - a dragon that had been sighted in these skies and believed to have taken up residence in the mountain temple.'

The smile faded slightly from the dwarf's lips as he sighed. 'The beast had already caused much damage, including harming one of the company's own. Thankfully, he was not beyond the saving hand of the Creator's grace and I was able to call upon his Miracles to bring him to good health, but the fellowship was nevertheless sufficiently steeled in their resolve to hunt down the creature. Alas - the creature... was resolved to do some hunting of its own.'

Ah... I did not think the chill could deepen further still,
he could not help but think as he wrapped his furs a little tighter around him.

'We were ambushed at the stone bridge crossing over the chasm on the other side of these tunnels,' Ingvar continued. 'Through the Creator's protection, we were able to fend off the beast's attack, but in the struggle, I was thrown off the bridge and into the abyss below. Yet by some... some Miracle that these mortal hands cannot sway nor this mortal mind can comprehend... I survived the fall to the bottom of the chasm, and not only that, I was saved from the claws of the creeping darkness by a winged vassal of the Creator himself. I was twice delivered by my Creator's gracious hand, my friends - twice!'

The unbridled joy and wonder blazing in every crease and crinkle in the dwarf's face was proudly displayed without shame or reserve, matching the elation in his voice as he went on, 'I was brought to the entrance of one of the tunnels leading into the mountain, and upon making my way through the passage I was drawn to the sound of ongoing battle and, of course' - he gestured to the priestess - 'the sensation of the Creator's divine power at work. And thus this humble dwarf has been placed before you, and you, friends, before me.'

Drawing his account to a close, he brought his gauntleted hands together as his features turned grim. 'Now, I have a question of my own, which I deem of such import that I cannot bring myself to continue this exchange until said question is answered.'

With an almost icy expression that held all the gravity and seriousness of a dwarf of his many years, he turned to fix his gaze unerringly upon the young priestess.

'What... is your name?'
 
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Rekai Leon

New Member
Faron Firestorm

- The Fiery Brawler -

Faron startled a bit at the deafening sound of destruction made by the dragon, but he did not panic as much as before. He took a deep breath and got on the Fighting Stance as soon as possible. The Drakkar believed that the dragon was most vulnerable when it was attacking, so he patiently waited for its next move while using his power of Earth manipulation to attract some of the debris caused by the dragon, forming a small but deadly arrow. Then, once he had seen the dragon opening its mouth again and preparing to breath out another wave of fire, Faron quickly used Stonefist to shoot the earth projectile towards the dragon's wing. He believed that things would be easier for his team if the dragon was injured to the point that it had to land. That would also minimize the chance of it escaping again for recovery and another surprise attack.
 
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Parrot Parfait

An Eclectus Parrot
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


Meeting a priest of the Maker was usually pleasant for Carn. From his earlier travels, many of the priests he’d encountered always had a warmness to them, Ingvar being no different. Though, when Carn eagerly expected Ingvar’s answer for Carn's question, the dwarf began going off on a tangent that, though Carn would never show in front of the priest, made him a bit annoyed. Fortunately, Carn need not wait long, for the dwarf quickly returned to the topic Carn was interested in, who Ingvar saw on the mountain. Rather than who he saw, the dwarf described who he was with, and that immediately caught Carn off guard, causing him to look more intensely at Ingvar. Ingvar travelling with the dragon hunters was unexpected, but at the same time, Carn should have expected it. Then, when Ingvar mentioned the attack, Carn’s heart sank but rose slightly once he heard they repelled the beast. Now charged by Ingvar’s story, Carn became impatient to ask another question, but withheld out of respect for the two priests, but soon as Maggie gave her answer, Carn couldn’t withold his question and the words leaped from his mouth.

“Umm… excuse me, but could you take us to the dragon hunters? A friend of mine decided to tag along with your group, and we're actually looking for him now,” Carn eagerly asked.
 
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Kaerri

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Ingvar's question caused a bright blush of consternation, not hid in the slightest when Maggie pressed her hands to her cheeks. "Oh dear! I'm so sorry! It's so good to meet another of the Maker's priests, I must have forgotten! My name is Maggie." Fortunately for her, Carn's concern for his missing friend then prompted him to ask a question of his own, and she turned to him in relief, hoping everyone else was also turning their attention to him, or at least away from her. How embarrassing! She hoped Ingvar wouldn't think the less of her for it, and also hoped that the stern demeanor he'd assumed was a joke. Surely, if he really was offended, he'd have asked at the start, and not after explaining his own business? Or at least been offended the whole time and not just at the end? She kept her eyes on Carn, not wanting to know if anyone was still looking at her. Whether they shared her embarrassment, or Ingvar's apparent gravity, or were only amused, she didn't care to know just then.
 



Asher hid away his crossbow as the rest of the Chosen relaxed, or at least partially relaxed. He simply nodded when Maggie introduced him.

After hearing the dwarf's tale, a sense of danger started rising up from within him, an urge to escape that served him well in his time as a thief. Knowing the exact moment when to run or hide was what kept a good thief on the streets, and not knowing kept a bad one behind bars.

But in this situation and this place all he could do was ignore the feeling and press on, come Azshari or dragons.

Maybe the Maker will bestow some more miracles for the rest of us as well. Asher thought, thinking of the Winged Wolf.
 

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 tunnels under the Frostback Mountains



    Ingvar's account, despite turning out somewhat long-winded, was eagerly consumed by the fellowship once the initial questions were out of the way. Violet followed the story with occasional nodding - you could tell from her facial expressions that she was not only listening, but weighing truths and implications as well. Similarly, the young girl introduced to Ingvar as merely Dina followed along quietly from beside and slightly behind her elven escort (as Violet's protective disposition towards the girl could indeed be easily determined). Though she had said nothing at all thus far, she seemed genuinely interested in Ingvar's retelling. Laurolf's face, on the other hand, might as well have been carved from rock. The dwarf had no smile or obvious sympathy for his compatriot; instead he studied him under a stern frown, with only his blue eyes shifting restlessly. Like Violet, he too must have been doing some weighing of his own.

    "There is much here that warrants further discussion," Violet added after Carn's question, then backed him up: "But first thing's first. As you've heard, our purpose here is to catch up with the dragonhunters. You were with the Silverthorn Company, I dare hope? Not some other party?" the elf raised a probably valid concern, as they'd already learned of at least one more dragonhunting party in the area. The dragon's reputation, after all, preceded it.
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


Ingvar's question caused a bright blush of consternation, not hid in the slightest when Maggie pressed her hands to her cheeks. "Oh dear! I'm so sorry! It's so good to meet another of the Maker's priests, I must have forgotten! My name is Maggie."

Ingvar gave a rippling laugh in full reassurance that he had spoken in jest. 'No need for apologies, dear sister, 'tis but an old man's teasing, pay it no heed,' he said to the priestess - now known to be Maggie - with a half-apologetic smile. 'It is a pleasure to meet you - you and all your companions,' he added with slight bow to the rest of the party. He once again caught the eyes of the one other dwarf in the gathering, and didn't miss the stone-faced expression with which he was being scrutinised.

Oh dear.

“Umm… excuse me, but could you take us to the dragon hunters? A friend of mine decided to tag along with your group, and we're actually looking for him now,” Carn eagerly asked.

In the same way Ingvar had noted Laurolf's stern features, Carn's visible dismay then excitement at hearing about the fate of the company had not escaped the old dwarf's attention. As such the quick succession with which the drakkar's request followed his previous question informed Ingvar that he truly was speaking for concern for a friend.

"There is much here that warrants further discussion," Violet added after Carn's question, then backed him up: "But first thing's first. As you've heard, our purpose here is to catch up with the dragonhunters. You were with the Silverthorn Company, I dare hope? Not some other party?" the elf raised a probably valid concern, as they'd already learned of at least one more dragonhunting party in the area. The dragon's reputation, after all, preceded it.

That she calls the company by name confirms it, he thought. They seek the same party, among whom is one Carn counts as his friend. A sister of the Creator vouches for them - as unrighteous as I am and limited in wisdom, I can only do what I can discern to be right and wise in my eyes. The rest I leave to the Creator's will.

The dwarf nodded. 'It was indeed the Silverthorn Company by whom I was hired to be their guide through the mountains,' he replied. 'Though we have, as you can see, been forced to part ways, leaving my contract with them... in suspense, shall we say? With the situation being as it is, I find myself with an unexpected pocket of free time on my hands to offer my services to others during this fortuitous interlude. There is one particular route both swift and scenic which I highly recommend... heading to a rather fetching temple last heard to be a destination to be an illustrious band of huntsmen, warriors of great renown...'

Ingvar brought his hands together akin to a silent clap. 'Jesting aside, what say you, friends?' he asked them with a still-friendly but measured expression. 'If I were to serve as your guide, would you wish to continue to your destination?'
 

Parrot Parfait

An Eclectus Parrot
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


Carn’s expression drew blank upon hearing Violet inquire whether or not Ingvar was really from the Silverthorn group. Had Ingvar not been from the correct band, the mistake would have terribly embarrassed Carn and ruined some of the mission's secrecy. After realizing this fact, Carn shrunk ever so slightly back into the group, promising himself to take more care in this mission.

The dwarf nodded. 'It was indeed the Silverthorn Company by whom I was hired to be their guide through the mountains,' he replied. 'Though we have, as you can see, been forced to part ways, leaving my contract with them... in suspense, shall we say? With the situation being as it is, I find myself with an unexpected pocket of free time on my hands to offer my services to others during this fortuitous interlude. There is one particular route both swift and scenic which I highly recommend... heading to a rather fetching temple last heard to be a destination to be an illustrious band of huntsmen, warriors of great renown...'

This priest is definitely a long winded one, but he’s still very charming, Carn noted again in his head. Though, however charming the priest was, Carn soon felt a bit suspicious of the dwarf, noticing the unusual coincidence that a guide, of all times, so happened to appear now. Still, not wanting to be rude, Carn spoke nothing of his thoughts. Rather, he decided the Commander’s and Laurolf’s decisions were sufficient enough. Besides, even if they erroneously started following an agent of the Sorceress or some ne'er-do-well random, they’d only be following the supposed priest briefly if he couldn’t hold a discussion over the creationist scripts and ideas.
 

Kaerri

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Maggie's blush faded and she looked much more comfortable after Ingvar explained he'd only been teasing. "Oh! It's very nice to meet you too," she replied, and then listened to his response to Carn and Violet. "We aren't really here for sightseeing," she began. Then Violet's wariness and Laurolf's outright frowning finally sank in, and she looked from one to the other, torn between caution for the sake of their mission and her natural willingness to trust a fellow priest. She remembered the Keeper of the Archives in Alicante, and how he had warned her of betrayals within even the Elder Council of the Maker's church.* The cold must have frozen my brain as well as my fingers...Wait. He's the one who healed Carn's friend Aron. If he can cast Miracles, then he's a true priest still. Her expression brightened, then grew sorrowfully thoughtful as a more cynical thought occurred to her. He says he's the one who healed Aron. All we know of him is what he's said himself. She began again, more troubled. "Forgive me, brother, but our true destination and purpose must be known to few, and those few must be trusted. I promise you that it is a cause worth following by any true to the Maker, yet I've been told by good authority that there are some among even our highest brethren who have been... I guess 'corrupted' is the best word for it. Drawn, or tempted, aside from their true duty, and no longer pure before the Maker." She took a deep breath, and then looked pleadingly into Ingvar's eyes. "And so I must ask what I never thought I would need to. Please, brother, will you not prove yourself to us? Call forth His power as a sign that you still stand in his favor, and thus are not opposed to us?" It hurt even to ask, even to think of asking. Almost blasphemous in itself. And yet she dared not not ask.


* - See Maggie's spoiler in this post.
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


Once again, the old priest's long years of observing those under his care did not miss Maggie's harried expression as her gaze flitted to the flintier mien of her companions. This being the case, he half-expected the next words that came from the young priestess:

"Forgive me, brother, but our true destination and purpose must be known to few, and those few must be trusted. I promise you that it is a cause worth following by any true to the Maker, yet I've been told by good authority that there are some among even our highest brethren who have been... I guess 'corrupted' is the best word for it. Drawn, or tempted, aside from their true duty, and no longer pure before the Maker."

Ingvar nodded with a slight hardening of the brow. Indeed, he had long been perplexed by the conduct of the priesthood to the south of his frozen homelands. Though there were always to be a degree of imperfection among even the most pious of their brethren - for indeed, all creations by their own self-seeking desires made themselves imperfect in their deviation from the Creator's design - it appeared by Maggie's tone that there were deeper machinations afoot than mere deviation. No wonder her guard was drawn up to unfamiliar heights during unfamiliar times.

'Once more, you seek forgiveness where you need seek none,' he said. 'You have spoken in wisdom and compassion - I spoke lightly of your journey and was out of turn. This corruption you speak of is deserving of caution. That said, one wonders if we creatures were ever pure and we priests are but witnessing the greater pursuits of our own pride,' he added in a grimmer voice almost unto himself.

She took a deep breath, and then looked pleadingly into Ingvar's eyes. "And so I must ask what I never thought I would need to. Please, brother, will you not prove yourself to us? Call forth His power as a sign that you still stand in his favor, and thus are not opposed to us?"

This time, the understanding smile that made its way through the dwarf's frosted beard was not without some sadness, though he did not appear pained at Maggie's request. Nary do I speak of a priest's pride and my Creator sends me this request from a younger sister to humble me. Indeed, true belief is not forged through persuasion of the tongue, but transformation of the heart. So must I call upon his strength for vindication rather than my own.

He knelt down, and with a sweep of his hand, he cleared a portion of the rocky surface they stood on. 'If it were but a Miracle that could put your anxieties to rest, I would call upon as many thousands as the Creator in his generosity would allow me,' he spoke as he dusted his palms of snow. 'But if it transpires that even one of these apostate priests you spoke of are also able to somehow display the same powers, what will become of my proof to you then?'

He touched his fingers onto the rock surface he had just cleared. 'So I pray that this will be a sign to you that I do not take the Creator's name in vain, and that I bear you and your companions no harm.'

Ingvar closed his eyes and began his prayer as light burst forth from his fingers.

___________________________

INGVAR casts Scribe on the rock surface, creating words only devoted Creationists can read.

I thank you, my Creator, for guiding me here thus far. By your strength alone have I undertaken every step of my journey. By the wings of your servant was I borne out of darkness. This past day, as you have every day since my birth, you have showered me with your generosity. I thank you for all my comrades of the Silverthorn Company, and pray for their safety, wherever they may be. I thank you for Faron, and pray that he would not be weighed down by guilt, but would instead know your caring guidance.

I thank you for the travelers before me. I thank you for Violet, and the protective spirit you have given her that is visible to all. I thank you for Dina, and pray you will keep her safe through her youth. I thank you for Carn, and his love for his friend. I thank you for Laurolf, and for this blessed encounter with my kin. I thank you for Asher, and pray we would become firm comrades, if not friends. I thank you for Maggie, my sister in the faith, and for your gift of a compassionate heart which moves her to do what is right in your eyes.

I thank you for all these things as your faithful servant.
 
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Parrot Parfait

An Eclectus Parrot
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


Though well read in many Creationist scriptures and passages of common language, Carn knew little about the etheric symbols the priests communicated with. As such, when Ingvar scribed those angelic characters onto the rock, Carn watched with maw slightly agape as he mused over the miracle’s beauty. Sometimes, he wished he himself were a priest, able to perform such miracles, but alas, after learning of the paganistic practices of his ancestors, he oft thought himself unworthy to become a true priest. Such a fact, however, didn’t bar him altogether from the faith. Rather, it made him all the more eager to follow the teachings, and made him appreciate he’d been fortunate enough to be brought up in the faith.

When Ingvar finished, Carn, nearly convinced, almost gave a nod of approval but stopped himself. At this point, only one person could verify the miracle, and that person would be Maggie. However, unsatisfied with staying silent, Carn quietly muttered, “Amazing.” Hopefully, they'd be on their way soon...
 

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 tunnels under the Frostback Mountains



The whole group's attention caught on the brilliant golden script, though it was legible to but the two among them. In the near total darkness of the mountain tunnel, it seemed almost an impossible thing.

"Well, that's good enough for me," Violet spoke. "True servants of the enemy are still few in the ranks of the Temple; fewer still those among the dwarves of the North, if there indeed be any. As it seems that we all agree, let us depart and try to catch up with the Silverthorns. There seems to be but one way left to take, and hopefully it's a straight one," the elf indicated the tunnel ahead.

*** *** ***​

Around 15:00 h
Somewhere in the Frostback Mountains



Fortunately, the way had been straightforward - at least in the sense that there had been no more junctions to wonder about. The tunnel grew only steeper and no wider, but despite the slow, careful progress under the steady light of Maggie's and Ingvar's Miracles, the group made it out before too long. Back out into the blindingly (at first) white, unwelcoming, frozen, mountain landscape. Severe winds baffled them where the tunnel exited onto the side of a cliff out of the way, but a short path cut into the cliff quickly led them up and over a ledge , and then they found themselves in an interesting place.

Nearby to their right was a large opening - another tunnel, but much larger and shorter. It seemed to have been dug right through one of the tallest peaks of the Frostbacks. Through it they could spy the other side of the great bridge that spanned the chasm. To their left, they were greeted by an unexpectedly wide, open plateau, enclosed by more peaks all around, most of them barely taller than the plateau itself. Amid this hidden white retreat stood a single structure, smack in the middle of it all, and it could only have been one thing.

The ancient and forgotten temple was an imposing build of black and grey stone, including two towers on the side facing them and a high wall between them. In a way, it was the most unusual looking temple any of them had ever seen - more a small fortress than a temple of the Maker, though it couldn't have been anything else. But at the same time, it fit the hostile, inaccessible nature of its location. No flags or banners adorned it, and if there were any religious sigils, they could not be spied at this distance. What could be easily spied were the thick plumes of black smoke rising from several places. The entire temple was not on fire, thankfully, but it had definitely been attacked by the dragon, and recently. Very recently.

To get to it, they would have to cross something of a very wide natural causeway that curved slightly away and then back towards the temple. Completely open. Extremely exposed. The thought had to have been on all of their minds as they surveyed both the land and the sky overhead. The great, open, sky, still heavily clad in overlapping clouds in various shades of grey. Spots aplenty for a dragon to hide and suddenly appear from. No cover at all for them to make use of, if the beast was still around.

h8NoPtK.jpg

(note: same pic as before, but now without the dragon)
 

Rekai Leon

New Member
Faron Firestorm

- The Fiery Brawler -

Faron sighed a bit in relief as the dragon retreated. Their attacks were not perfect, but good enough to repel the huge flying creature. The drakkar then looked around for his companions before realizing that some of them were missing. He took a few deep breaths in an effort of staying calm.

"Have you seen the dragon? Where it went?" Areon asked a different question.
"I have no idea, but I doubt that it has flown away, because we should have seen that if that had been the case. What I am worrying is that the dragon is capable of rendering itself invisible and it is planning another surprise attack. Let's stay extra vigilant," Faron answered.

"Rains!" Gorski barked what was probably a question while walking around a burning pile of rubble that was between him and the drakkar. "Have you seen him? Have you seen anyone?"
"Unfortunately, no. They may be stuck in the rubble piles, although I hope that it is not the case. Let's spread out and find them," he said, giving close inspections to any rubble pile that was large enough to entomb a living creature. He believed that whoever stuck in those piles would try to draw as much attention from others as they possibly could, be it a slightest amount of movements or sounds. Therefore, he tried to be as quiet as possible instead of calling the missing ones out loud, because it would have been no good if they could have heard him yet he had not been able to hear them back. After a while, Faron had uncovered several large boulders he found suspicious, but none of his teammates had been found so far. The drakkar started to feel desperate, but he knew he had to keep trying.
 

Parrot Parfait

An Eclectus Parrot
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


The sight of the smoldering ruins would have made Carn pale had he not any scales. Carn made motions to move forward, the gravel crackling beneath his great weight, but not two steps forwards, reasoning returned to Carn, restraining him in place. His expression betrayed no worry, but the fidgeting with the hilt of his sword did little to hide his anxiety. He wanted so badly to check on his friend, but with a dragon on the loose, simply running over could prove suicidal. To help further calm his nerves, Carn murmured scriptures on strength and peace, and afterwards, Carn was able to think more clearly, with an idea already forming in his mind.

With the conversation perhaps having already progressed, Carn was ready to state his opinion, saying something along the lines of “With the dragon still being an issue, I think we should shoot a dulled arrow with a message attached to it. When the dragon hunters reply, we can figure out what’s going on.”

When...
Carn thought to himself, partially pondering his hopeful language.
 

Kaerri

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Earlier
'Once more, you seek forgiveness where you need seek none,' he said. 'You have spoken in wisdom and compassion - I spoke lightly of your journey and was out of turn. This corruption you speak of is deserving of caution. That said, one wonders if we creatures were ever pure and we priests are but witnessing the greater pursuits of our own pride,' he added in a grimmer voice almost unto himself.
Maggie blushed at the not-really-a-reproach Ingvar began with, but her blush faded as she listened to the rest of his words. "Not pure of ourselves, but in our will to serve Him," she replied thoughtfully. "Or at least trying to be."

INGVAR casts Scribe on the rock surface, creating words only devoted Creationists can read.
Maggie read the prayer magically inscribed on the stone, her expression growing lighter and more joyful with every word. "I am satisfied," was all she could manage, but it was obvious to anyone who looked at her that she was far more than merely satisfied. Trust and faith in her fellow priest had been restored beyond doubt, and she had nothing further to say, only nodding in response to the others.


Now

It was just as well, really, since the bitterly cold winds might otherwise have had Maggie slipping back into the semi-nervous state she'd been in before. However, having another priest of the Maker along was so reassuring that she was easily able to keep to the positive attitude more natural to her. Cheerfulness sobered but not conquered by the sight of the dragon-ravaged fortress temple ahead, she considered both the landscape and Carn's words. "Are we sure they're even in there?" she asked. "You last saw them on the bridge here, right, Ingvar? I don't suppose they're still there, but do you know if they'd have made for the temple or gone somewhere else?"
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


With a nod of gratitude at Carn and Violet's words of affirmation (and not withholding a smile at the joy evident on Maggie's face), Ingvar rose from his hunched position.

'Then I shall be pleased to guide you to our mutual destination,' he said.

* * *​

Had Ingvar known that their mutual destination would be in the wretched state that they found it in, he might have pledged to guide them there with a little less joviality. It was an ill wind that blew those columns of dark smoke forth from the temple stones, and even at his most optimistic, it would have been difficult for the dwarf to ignore the ruthless clarity with which the grim black pillars rose against the bleak paleness of the steel-grey sky. Maggie's uncertainty as to whether the company still remained within was not unfounded - the temple showed every sign of a dragon's fury, and he knew from first-hand experience that few mortals would tarry long upon facing such wrath.

Yet these were the Silverthorn Company. They had set out to make the dragon their prey.

Keeping his voice measured, Ingvar eventually said: 'The company had resolved to pursue the dragon, and as such this place would have been their destination. It may be that they thought to relocate to a more advantageous site to pitch battle, but I do not believe that they would have ventured to find a more defensible location than a temple such as this without extensive knowledge of the area. It is more likely that they are either still within the vicinity or...'

A gust of wind cut him off, but he did not resume speaking after it passed as he did not wish to voice the thought that would have followed.

Could it be... are they lost to the beast? Are we too late?

He thumbed his braided beard, weighing the possibilities in his mind before speaking again. 'It is this dwarf's observation that the temple is well-fortified by design, and my knowledge of the Silverthorn Company's prowess as soldiers and huntsmen gives me some confidence in their capacity to competently defend such a structure, even against a dragon. There is a... good chance that they succeeded in fending off its attack, which - judging from the smoke - cannot have taken more than... three, perhaps four hours hence. It is, however, likely that the company sustained injuries, in which case time is of the essence.'

Ingvar paused momentarily, wary of asserting with more authority than was his due as a newcomer to the party. Nevertheless, he continued, 'In this old dwarf's humble opinion, I believe the company are still within, and that a prolonged exchange of blunted arrows may only serve to extend uncertainty and delay attention to the wounded. As such, it may be that it is in the best interest of the company and this party's designs to make our way across the causeway into the temple - with caution and subtlety, yes - but with haste. Should the dragon return, Maggie and myself will call upon the graces of the Creator that he may shield us from harm. What say you?'
 

Kaerri

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Maggie nodded. "That seems best to me, too," she offered. "They don't have any reason to think we're out here, so they may not think to check incoming arrows for messages. Actually seeing us, though, that would be a different matter, especially if they recognize Carn and Ingvar. Once we are out on the causeway, I think we should go as quickly as we can. It's awful exposed out there." She couldn't help glancing up as she said that, to see if the dragon had snuck into view.
 

Parrot Parfait

An Eclectus Parrot
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


While Ingvar’s and Maggie’s logic was sound, Carn was wary of simply running over the causeway. Were the dragon to swoop down from the wrong side, the entire party could be sent barrelling down the cliffside, an experience Carn did not want to go through again. Extra caution would be very much necessary if the group wanted to reach the other side relatively unscathed.

“I still feel uneasy about crossing without knowing how they’re doing or if they’re there at all,” Carn spoke honestly, “but if we want to cross anyways, then we’ll need to be ready in case the dragon attacks. I remember Maggie possessing the Great Divine Shield from what I’ve heard, but I’m not sure about Ingvar. If he possesses such a miracle, I’ll fully agree with crossing over now.”
 
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Wolf Rawrrr

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


  • Around 15:00 h
    The ancient temple fortress in the Frostback Mountains



    "I'm with Maggie on this," Violet said. "We should proceed with caution, but proceed nonetheless. Whether the hunters prevailed over the dragon or not, I doubt they've come through the battle unscathed. Chances are that someone in there can use our help."

    Yet before advancing, the elf stood still for a moment and glanced over her shoulder. She was looking at Dina; her long-time friend who had been crowned queen-in-exile only yesterday. Her ward, doubly so. Given that, it wasn't difficult to guess her thoughts. Taking her inside this ancient, crumbling fortress that had just hours ago been burned down by a dragon was undeniably dangerous - but so was staying outside the relative safety of those walls with her (this was only less obvious to Ingvar, who knew nothing of the girl's identity, though he couldn't have missed how protective the elf was of her).

    "Whatever we do," Laurolf chimed in, having taken a step forward to stand next to Dina, "We'd be wise to band together. But yes, we'd best be gettin' inside to see what we're dealin' with, hm?"

    "Let's be quick, then," Dina herself added. "And don't worry. I shall do my best to stay out of harm's way. "

    Violet nodded and prepared to lead the way, though not before giving Maggie a pleading look. "Quickly across, then. While the skies are still clear," she said as she prepared her bow and one of the specially-enchanted arrows she carried.

    The party filed down the causeway without trouble, and they soon found themselves at the entrance of the ancient fortress. The main gates, as they'd been able to spy from afar, had been smashed open - either by a powerful spell or some large creature, most likely. The smell of burning was overpowering up close, but at least it didn't smell like scorched flesh. Yet.


 

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Maggie responded to Violet's unspoken plea by staying by Dina's side. While she (and Ingvar, she was sure) would do their best to protect the entire group, Maggie knew Violet would want special care taken of Dina. And given who she was, or rather her newly-acknowledged title, that was probably a good idea. The realm would need a ruler when the Sorceress was deposed, and Dina had been accepted by the Resistance as their best choice.

The priestess kept her eyes on the sky as they hurried down the causeway, but wherever the dragon was, it wasn't here. "We made it this far," she said with a sigh of relief. "Maybe Ingvar should lead from here, since they know him. But please let's get inside as quick as we can. The gates may be smashed but they're better than nothing."
 

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