June 28, 2017, 07:29:08 AM

Author Topic: Interregnum  (Read 135 times)

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Offline Kyne

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Interregnum
« on: May 08, 2017, 02:22:49 PM »
Kyne stared into the embers of the campfire, feeling the ebb and flow of the energies pulsating within as the chestnut branches slowly disintegrated into ash, their aroma dancing softly about the sheltered glade. It had been damp of late, but spring was slowly coming to an end and alongside the new life it always brought he could feel the heat rising in the forest air. A tension that left the air thick with the promise of fire and blood. He knew it all too well and found himself wondering if he would ever truly be able to stop any of it, or if he was just another part of the problem.

The weary elf glanced up from the flames at his companions. Twelve men and women, human, sylvan and highborne alike. Even a half-orc had joined their ranks! All of them desperate to do something about the banditry ravaging the Westwood - their home. They'd been camping out in the forest for months by now, raiding bandit camps, harassing supply lines. Militarily they'd had a great deal of success. Their losses had been minimal, they'd recovered large quantities of stolen goods and even rescued some innocents. Nevertheless, even given the prodigious quantities of bandits put to the sword or the rope, there always seemed to be more.
Kyne had been out in these damned trees fighting his private war against Uhai's little empire for almost ten years. He'd seen countless lesser bandit chieftains rise and fall - many to his own blade. He'd ventured across the length and breadth of the Westwood, all the way into the foothills of Khalar, but in all this time he'd never once set eyes on the Bandit King himself. Legend took Uhai for a monster made flesh, an Avatar of Jherad, the God of Ruin himself. It could be true, it could be rumour. Fear was a powerful thing. Even so, monster or not, Kyne knew better than most that monsters could be slain.

At this point he found himself wondering if they actually posed a threat to Uhai's organisation at all, or if his invisible nemesis just enjoyed toying with him. Kyne was an experienced tracker. He could find his way in the wilderness like few others in Elentári, even amonst the Elves. It seemed unlikely in the extreme that he would fail so utterly and consistently in locating Uhai's base of operations. This had been going on for far too long and someone or something of greater power was at work here.
The last decade had seen Uhai go from an inconvienience to an obsession for Kyne. Ganek and Lillith had both long since lost interest and he had not parted on good terms with either. Those of Krigare Själ who had not left with Ganek had disbanded on their own and Kyne's connections to the Emerald Sentinels had faded into obscurity. Though he had followers here in the Westwood, in many ways he walked alone.


A low buzz of activity went up around the camp and Kyne quickly pushed himself to his feet. Something was happening, something unusual. Beckoning to the flames of the campfire with his off hand, a single tongue of flame licked up into his palm, and he carried it with him as he moved should he need magic on his side at short notice. Treading softly across the leaf covered floor of the forest between his companions bedrolls and the scattered logs that served as benches, the ranger made his way to a crude platform constructed high in the upper boughs of a nearby ash tree. There were two in the area serving as watchposts for the camp, and a few moments later the wood elf had deftly scaled the trunk.

"What is it Ercan?," he asked softly, peering through the branches into the darkness.

"There," the half elf answered, pointing to the north west where a shadowy figure was stumbling through night towards the camp. "It could be Sylneiros."

"If it is, he's injured." Kyne replied, turning the situation over in his mind. Sylneiros was the group's longest standing member. A fellow wood elf, they'd met in Duinarda five years ago. He'd been out leading a scouting run with two others and wasn't due back until the next day. If he was returning now, and in bad shape, then that meant trouble.

"Get Thomas and Jorge on horses and riding the perimeter. He could have been followed." Kyne decided.

Nodding, Ercan turned from the watchpost and moved to pass on Kyne's orders.

"And Ercan," the half-elf paused at the edge of the platform to hear the rest.

"Send Leocan up for the next watch, then take Loraya and bring them in, whoever they are."

Turning back to the darkness of the forest, Kyne sighed. This felt like the start of a long night.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 05:45:41 PM by Kyne »

Offline Kyne

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Re: Interregnum
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2017, 06:37:29 PM »
"He's hurt!"

The cry echoed through the trees as Ercan and Loraya stumbled back through the woods towards the camp. Sylneiros was propped up between the two of them, an arm over each of their shoulders. They were moving as quickly as they could with the elf's slack form slumped about them. He was a dead weight and seemed to have passed out. One of his legs was bent sickeningly in an unnatural direction.

"Over here!" Varis beckoned, indicating a bed roll lain out besides the fire. "Put him down there."

Carefully manauevering their injured brother over to the makeshift field bed, the elves set Sylneiros down. Murmering prayers to Lady Faelyn, Varis reached out and a golden light bathed his chest. His ragged breathing slowed.

"How is he?" Kyne asked, moving up to stand besides Varis.

"Badly wounded." She lifted Sylneiros' tunic to show extensive bruising covering his torso in dark inky blossoms. His hands were covered in cuts and scrapes and one eye was blackened. "How bad, I cannot yet say. He is alive."

"Can you wake him. I need to know what he saw.

Varis shot Kyne a look that met with a stony expression on the ranger's own face. He'd been expecting that, but he was their Captain and sometimes he had to make distateful decisions.

"He's very weak. I wouldn't recommend it."

Kyne lifted a hand to his brow and rubbed his temples wearily.

"Just wake him up Varis," he sighed. "It's an order, if it has to be."

The high elf sighed and turned to rest a hand on Sylneiros' forehead. A soft blue light danced across it for a few seconds and the elf began to stir. Bending to one knee besides his injured comrade's head, Kyne leant closer.

"Sylneiros. Sylneiros wake up." The elf stirred further, as though moving in a dream. "Sylneiros!" Kyne placed a hand on the other elf's shoulder and shook lightly. Suddenly the sylvan's eyes flew open and his hand was on Kyne's, grasping it like it was all the was holding him on to life.

"Kyne!" he rasped desperately, his eyes bulging and sweat running across his brow. "I saw him!"

"Saw who?" the ranger demanded. "What happened? Where are Urimenor and Mia?"

Sylneiros began to choke and spat blood onto his chest.

"Kyne, that's enough!" Varis exclaimed, but the wood elf simply held his hand up to her behind him as though to stop her.

"Sylneiros, tell me." he repeated.

"Dead... by the Norzane," the wood elf pushed out weakly, "five... He erupted into another burst of coughing and Varis gave Kyne look of ice. "Five mi-... five miles north-east. From the Vaaryn mouth. A clearing. Uhai...

The sentences were barely squeezed out between pants and soon as he was finished Varis barged past Kyne and lay her hands back upon Sylneiros' forehead. The blue light ushering him into a peaceful sleep.

"Go!" she spat at Kyne. "You've got what you wanted. Go, before we lose any more friends today."

Kyne stood grimly. He hadn't wanted to do that, but if had been necessary. Sylneiros would have been disappointed with anything less. He lay a gently on Varis shoulder by way of apology. She knew he only did what he had to, but this hadn't been their first clash over wounded brothers and it wouldn't be their last. She always forgave. In time. Lady Faelyn wouldn't have her do anything else.

"Ercan, Loraya," he beckoned to the two standing closest to him. "Stay here with Jessica and Leocan. Watch over Varis and Sylneiros. Illinorin, go get Thomas, Jorge and Adya. We ride for the Norzane."
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 06:39:01 PM by Kyne »

Offline Kyne

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Re: Interregnum
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2017, 06:22:09 PM »
The rapid clopping of hooves on the soft forest earth bounced dully amongst the trees as Kyne and his four companions tore through the woods on horseback. The Norzane was a days hard ride from their camp. If they were lucky, Uhai would still be there, but nothing was certain. The mood was grim. If Slyneiros' delirious ramblings were to be trusted, two of their number had already fallen to the bandit king and his men today. They were riding a long way into a hard fight and although they went to avenge their comrades and put an end to the threat haunting the Westwood, they all knew that it was a realistic possibility that some of them may not return.

Uhai was a living legend, a ghost in the forest he called his home - his hunting ground. Nobody was known to have faced him and lived to tell the tale. Kyne had literally been hunting the man - if he even was a man - for years. The ranger was possibly one of the best trackers in all of Elentári and still he'd never found a trace. Somehow, Uhai always slipped through his fingers and after all this time the elf was sure that some kind of dark force must be aiding the bandit king. Something beyond the normal, mortal laws of the forest.

They rode in near silence for several hours, before finally stopping to allow the horses to water and rest a while. They'd come a long way, and a break was necessary. They would need to make camp once roughly halfway there. It begged the question how Sylneiros had made it back all this way, only to collapse just in sight of what passed for their home. They were all tired and it was a fine line between speed and exhaustion if they meant to have the energy to fight at the other end. After half an hour's rest, Kyne had them back on their horses and riding once more.

By the time they stopped again it was dawn and they were tracing the river bank towards the mountains of Khalar. Though it was likely just the chill of having ridden through the night catching up to them, the air here already seemed to bear the icy bite of the mountains as they moved between the pine trees that littered this region where the northern forest gave way to the foothills. Kyne drew the riders to a halt and they made camp on the shore of the Vaaryn. The dawn chorus rang amongst the cedars in odd contrast with those rolling out blankets under the trees to sleep on. Nevertheless, they'd been riding for most of the night and none of them were under any illusions as to how tired they were.

Adya took first watch. She'd been asleep when Illinorin woke her to leave. For his part, Kyne merely crossed his legs, sat against the trunk of a tall tree and closed his eyes in meditation. It was a technique he'd learned with the Order many years ago and mastered under the tutelage of Ranadraug in these very mountains. He would likely awaken more refreshed than any of them. In truth, he worried for his followers. They were all so committed, so passionate. On the one hand, too many good elves and men had died in this fight already. On the other, that was exactly why all of them were here and who was he to take that from them? Every person under his command knew why they were there, and in the end that was all that really mattered.

Offline Kyne

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Re: Interregnum
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 06:25:32 PM »
Kyne opened his eyes. Four hours had passed, it was time they were on their way. Wearily, he pushed himself to his feet.

"Jorg," he began. The half-orc had held the final watch and turned abruptly, realising that the Ranger was awake. "Get the others up, let's go."

Within a few minutes they were back on their horses and riding north once more. The terrain had a definite incline to it by now, as they moved into the pine strewn foothills proper. They knew this ground all too well. This was where time after time Uhai's men simply disappeared.

On they trotted and Kyne began to push the horses harder as the air grew cold and they approached the falls where the ice of the Norzane became the flowing torrents of the Vaaryn. Already they could see large chunks of broken off floes from the lake running downstream. Kyne paused at the head of the line and looked around, his brow furrowed. Synleiros had said five miles from here. They must be close.

A little over an hour later Kyne had them stop and tie up the horses. There was definitely a glade somewhere up ahead and broken branches and disturbed undergrowth marked the passage of someone who had blundered through these parts with all the care of a bull... or maybe just an injured and scared elf. It hadn't been long ago, that was for sure. Maybe Sylneiros? It was impossible to tell, but something had happened here.

Moving cautiously through the woods on foot, his companions following, Kyne stalked silently towards the clearing ahead. It certainly looked like there had been an encampment here recently. The grass was littered with the smouldering ashes of extinguished fires und the earth had been churned by the feet and wheels of many. Clear signs of bandits, but where were they? Gods be damned why was this always the way? Something felt different this time though... and in the center of the clearing... what was that? The ranger peered through the leaves to get a better look. A wooden post of some kind?

Kyne's train of thought was broken by the whistling of arrows in the air and he turned, eyes wide.

"Get back!" he shouted, but it was too late. A hail of shafts fell from the air like rain and the elf instinctively lashed out towards the sky with his hands, a shield of flame erupting from his hands in a great plume to incinerate the shafts falling towards him. Their iron heads fell to the ground merely scorched black, and one sliced across Kyne's cheek, drawing a thin line of blood.

His companions were not so lucky.

Over his shoulder he could hear the painfully familiar gurgling of a man's lungs filling with blood and reluctantly Kyne turned to look, his eyes hard and his heart heavy. Jorg lay twitching on the forest floor. The half orc's armour had stopped some arrows, but one had pierced his throat. Thomas let out a pained cry and rushed to his friend's side. Behind them Adya lay in Illinorin's arms, her head hung sickeningly and Kyne grimaced, not needing to see any more.

Battle roars erupted from the trees all around them.

"Thomas! Illinorin!" Kyne shouted, drawing his sword. "Up! We're not out of this yet..."

Offline Kyne

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Re: Interregnum
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2017, 02:45:29 PM »
Another hail of arrows darkened the sky, but this time Kyne was ready and darting tongues of flame shot from his fingers to lick the shafts from the air even as they fell. A raucous battle cry went up from the trees to the north and a wave of dark figures wearing hideous masks and wielding large twisted axes of black iron came rushing through the trees towards them. A quickly suppressed grimace flashed across the elf's face, this magical exertion was sapping his energy, but right now he had to get them through this without losing anyone else.

Illinorin's arms went loose, letting Adya simply slip and fall to the needle covered floor of the forest. Her head rolled onto its side, facing Kyne, her mouth hanging open with blood trickling from the corner, her eyes wide and blank. Stepping wordlessly to Thomas's side, Illinorin grabbed the man's arm and pulled him to his feet, his own eyes distant and dead of emotion. He too knew what had to be done, but the part of him that felt it was very far away indeed.

Moments later the raiders were upon them and they met them blades drawn. Thomas hacked and slashed about himself in a fury like a man possessed, ignoring the glancing blows and cuts that passed his guard. Before long a pile of bandit corpses lay about him and still they came. Besides him, Illinorin danced amongst the trees as only a wood elf can, his slim curved blade felling men who didn't even realise they'd been cut. Meanwhile, Kyne was lost in the depths of his bladesong, reciting form after form, his longsword held high in the traditional fighting style of the Order.

Out of the shadows between the trees a huge man strode towards him, swinging a mean looking club at the ranger's head. The twisted hunk of nails, wood and broken chunks of cast iron left a dissonant ring in the air as Kyne leant back abruptly to avoid it. The muscles in his stomach burned as he tensed to pull himself upright, lest he topple over, and the elf's right foot dug into the earth shifting backwards as he was forced to give ground. Raising his arms to swing his blade around over his head, Kyne struck downwards from left to right, reaching to open the brute's stomach.

'Morning star falling...'

His lips intoned silently, but in the time it had taken Kyne to recover his enemy had already moved out of reach. They circled each other steadily and Kyne hefted his sword, holding the hilt low before thrusting aggressively. His body twisted to the left as he moved alongside his weapon.

'Rising tide.'

The blade lunged forwards and up, his target stepping sideways fast enough to avoid a deadly blow, but not quickly enough to escape injury entirely. The man grunted as the steel sliced his shoulder, drawing a line of dull red blood that flowed down his chest. He let out a roar of anger and grabbed at Kyne's head with his good side, but the elf spun right, drawing his sword across his opponent's torso as he went, leaving a long, but shallow gash.

'Claws on the wind.'

They stood opposite one another once more, Kyne's blade now behind him in his right hand as he stood at an angle to his foe. The elf frowned. He had a hand free, with a little magic he could finish this here and now, but he'd already used too much power today and this fight was long from over. The other man was breathing heavily, blood dripping from his wounds. Raising his sword above his head once more, Kyne rushed at him.

The man let out another bestial battlecry and charged straight back, this time bending low and tackling the elf. Now it was Kyne who was slow and the wind was knocked from him as the brute's good shoulder caught his stomach, sending him tumbling to the ground. His sword clattered from his hands as he lost grip and then the man was on top of him powerful punches beating him into the earth. Blood ran from the elf's mouth and then as suddenly as the abuse had began it stopped. Out of nowhere Illinorin was at his side, his foot in the man's injured shoulder kicking him off of Kyne. Before the bandit could rise, Illinorin's blade had pierced his chest.

Offline Kyne

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Re: Interregnum
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2017, 01:44:49 PM »
Yanking his sword free with one hand, Illinorin turned and offered Kyne the other, grasping the ranger's forearm to pull him to his feet.

Closing his fingers around the hilt of his own blade where it lay on the earth besides him, Kyne pulled himself upright. As he stood, he felt his friend's arm go tense and then abruptly slacken as the bandit behind Illinorin ran him through. The wood elf's head slumped, as though staring at the black iron protruding from between his ribs and then he flopped lifelessly to the ground.

Rage welled up inside Kyne at the sight of yet another friend's life pointlessly lost. With a roar he pushed past Illinorin's falling body, swinging his sword around in a wide overhead arc to dig deeply into the neck of his enemy. The steel hit home with a jolt as it tore through the resistance of muscles and sinew, and blood spattered across Kyne's face as he severed an artery.

He looked up, wide eyed, ready to face his next foe, but there were no more. All around corpses littered the undergrowth amongst the trees and the forest reeked of the metallic stink of freshly shed blood. A few meters to the north Thomas was sat, leant back against the trunk of a huge cedar. Dead raiders were piled high around him and his eyes were closed, three enormous arrows protruding from his breast.

Over Kyne's shoulder the trees rustled and he span around abruptly, his sword held out in front of him, gripped tightly in both hands. He was shaking with nerves, his fingers white from his grip on the hilt of his blade. At the treeline on the edge of the clearing stood a huge man, bearing an enormous bow and wearing a a stag's skull and antlers as a helm. Then blood clouded his vision. He blinked it away and the figure was gone. Had there been anything at all? Kyne sheathed his blade and marched out purposefully towards the encampment that had first drawn them here. All of this had to have been for something.

Amongst the mud and and ashes in the centre of what had once been a woodland meadow, he found it. A thick wooden post, as though someone of immense strength had simply driven a tree trunk deep into the ground. A symbol had been carved into it deeply. Again a stag's skull and antlers. Below hung two heads, nailed to the post by their scalps. Two elves. Urimenor and Mia. Kyne turned away, fighting the urge to retch. He'd seen much death in his life. Blood alone did not have this effect on him, but he couldn't remember a day like this since... since the day the Order fell. Something out there was hunting and killing them. Every last one of them.

He looked back up. A piece of parchment was also pinned to the post by the same nail. He tore it gingerly away and turned it over to read the red-black writing scrawled across the other side.

I know where you live, Stormchaser