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  1. #121
    Destroyer of Worlds marijnh's Avatar
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    LOL! I think I like the edited version better

    Oh, an I think you're going to make a lot of friends if Goreshade kicks Haley to the curb.
    (sig by SnakeEyes)

  2. #122
    Conqueror equilshift's Avatar
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    I'm just gonna say that my Wednesday was pretty effed up by not being able to read some new material.
    What is the best kind of struggle? Speaking truth before a tyrannical leader.

    Asgard
    Current Competitive Record: pStryker 2-0 eStryker 0-2

  3. #123
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    [Sorry guys! I was working on a Mohsar tactica, then had some car trouble. Anyway, here's a new installment!]

    Solomon stalked forward, heading straight into the heart of the enemy's strength. He moved towards the eastern edge of the encirclement, blade in a guard position before him. It had been too much to hope that the enemy would grant him a one on one, but Jardon could see that he'd come up with a plan anyway. It was risky, but the situation demanded risk. He whispered a prayer as the contours of the engagement became clear to him.

    Brucker was positioning himself between two great trees. He had advanced out of the range of their weapons to effectively support, gambling that the offered target of the commanding warcaster would draw the Banes to him like iron to a magnet. He had his power field fully overboosted, perhaps he could survive their charge, thus bottling up their entire flank. As he did so, the Ordic forces would be free to engage with the mercenaries to the south. If they could win a decisive clash, send them running, Brucker could unleash Morrow's Benediction against the Bane soldiers clustered around him, and perhaps the enemy warcasters would flee. Sound, in theory, but the shear power of the Banes should preclude such plan, they might cut right through the field and end his life. In addition, the southern flank had a warcaster of its own. The odds that they would win such a clash seemed slim.

    To Jardon's surprise, the Banes did not charge, instead they drifted north and west, phasing through trees and broken ground alike with a heartbreaking speed. When they completed their run the Ordic forces would be entirely encircled. At the same time, the elven Revenant advanced on Solomon's position, strolling into the space before him with easy arrogance.

    "So..." it spoke, its voice a sepulchral mutter. "You come to the end of your sad, short defiance. How you must rue the spurning of our coin now, MacBane!" A moment later, as though responding to an unseen prompting the revenant spoke again. "My apologies, you all look the same to me." It raised its strange and frozen blade to the guard position.

    A sort of a hush had fallen over the clearing. The spasm of violence that Jardon had been anticipating to the south had not materialized. Instead everyone was watching, with one eye still aimed warily at their foes, the oncoming clash of the warcasters. He felt a flush of warmth in the frozen night. It seemed the enemy did not know who they confronted. Solomon Brucker was not the Ace of Heroes for nothing. In a battle he was average, but in a duel he was stellar. The enemy would strive against him, do perhaps a little damage through his powerfield, then fall to his blade. Perhaps his banes would be banished with his fall. Jardon had heard of such, and in this instant it seemed possible.

    The pause stretched out, two warcasters with powerfields flashing stood before one another. Solomon, shone upon by an unseen light, silhouetted against the looming shadow of his foe. His cape stirred slightly in a night breeze, his blade gleamed the white of the moon, of stars glimpsed from afar, of the sacred flames in the temple. The enemy, tall but hunched, rendered almost bestial by the articulations of its fluted armor. Its blade captured the light, tainted it with a yellow stain and refracted it outwards, offending the eyes of those who dared to gaze upon it. Whoever moved first would have the disadvantage.

    It was an odd paradox of warcaster dueling, but striking first would see your power wasted on the enemy's field, and leave you vulnerable to their return strike. In the court of the Aces this had been the subject of much discussion, and indeed at least one epic poem. Jardon had heard it called the Paradox of the Blade. To strike another you must accept the possibility of your own death. The Sunny Day faction had held that a similar accord existed between the Iron Kingdoms themselves...Khador had shown the falsity of that belief with their effortless obliteration of Llael.

    "What are you waiting for, Cryxer?" Brucker snarled. The Aces had ultimately determined a solution to the Paradox. Striking a single blow, enchanced in both accuracy and damage, would leave your defenses acceptably high, while having a chance to deal the foe lasting harm. They would be unable to heal without weakening their armor to an unacceptable degree. In this way, trading single blows, advantage would become clear without costing either participant their life. Somehow Jardon doubted that was what would occur in this instance.

    "Two things, mortal." The monster intoned, voice deeper still, as though rising from a well. "The first has come to pass...Behold." It waved its free hand to the encircling forces. Among them points appeared, green light born in the skeletal claws of select members of the enemy force, or born in torch sconces by shivering mercenaries. 6 points of Cryxlight bloomed in the night around them. "The Profane Circle has been established. Beneath this place gapes the Maw of the Dragonfather. Your souls shall not pass by his hunger."

    Jardon shuddered. Such a blasphemy had been described to him, but he had dismissed the notion as fear mongering. He'd served his God all his life. To have his soul snatched away by the reptile worshiped by their foe was frightful in the extreme. But it would not daunt him, and it wouldn't daunt Solomon Brucker. He was unsurprised to hear the Ace's response.

    "I do not devote myself to my God so that I might be protected, but to protect others. Your threats do not-" The revenant spoke over him, as though he didn't even hear him. "The second is my deathwalker." As he spoke a figure dropped from the tree to Solomon's left, incongruously graceful among that bleak host, hooded and lithe in the manner of elvenkind, and bearing a crossbow, which fired with a soft thrum even as she landed.

    Brucker was among the greatest swordsman walking Caen, certainly, but his greatest defensive prowess was focused on melee combat. Even so he got his blade out in the direction of the approaching quarrel. Had the assailant been anyone else he might have foiled the shot, but Jardon had recognized her profile in the instant that she'd been visible. He might not have recognized Kell Bailoch when they'd first encountered him, but no military man could misidentify Caen's most famous mage hunter...and sure as winter...

    The projectile struck Brucker's armor at a joint, sank a finger's width into his flesh with a soft thumping sound. His powerfield winked out, canceled in its entirety as the Cryxian wight fell upon him like an avalanche. The initial stroke was high and simple, a vertical cut powered by the arcane might of the enemy in its entirety. Solomon evaded it with a back step, blade returning to guard as the next attack followed swiftly on the heels of the first.

    The second blow was a horizontal swipe, accompanied by a quick demi-lunge. Solomon stepped into it, blade out and down attempting the beat parry that Jardon had seen him perfect in a hundred duels. It would have worked once again, had his foe born a normal blade. As the Morrowan battle blade struck it, however, the ice weapon shattered, melted and reformed around the parry, losing nothing of momentum in its rebirth. It struck Solomon what would have been a glancing blow to a pauldron...with any other blade.

    The ice erupted forth, a hungry winter surging over every surface, freezing Solomon in place as his foe reared back for the death blow. Jardon shouted something, but couldn't have told anyone for the life of him what he said. It could not happen, not like this, with the jaws of the Dragonfather waiting, with his men to be massacred, with the grand fight unfought...but it did. The Cryxian warcaster's blade slid easily through Brucker's armor, a direct chest shot...no, Jardon couldn't fool himself, a heart shot, and emerged from the back plate with equal ease. For a long moment, the Ace of Heroes hung there, cape hanging still, sword falling from his limp hand...then he followed his blade down.

    Down But Good.
    Last edited by Walter; 05-04-2011 at 10:47 AM.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  4. #124
    Conqueror Cowboy247's Avatar
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    This cant be good


    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderingalleycat View Post
    Winning with Legion takes..not rolling 1's

  5. #125
    Destroyer of Worlds marijnh's Avatar
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    And the feces have hit the fan...
    (sig by SnakeEyes)

  6. #126
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    Jardon reeled with shock, his gaze flashing here and there across the erupting conflict. What he beheld was universally disastrous.

    A Bane Lord vast and terrible emerging from the ranks of its comrades, materializing and slashing through the remnants of the Precursors with one enormous cleaving blow. It was a creature from a nightmare, a beast huge and frenzied, bearing an ax, or the the shadow of an ax, that seemed to appall the night itself. He beheld each fallen man giving birth in his turn to another of the horrifying spectres, which fell without pause upon the remnants of their comrades.

    The smirking cutthroats emerging from the woods, bearing the limp form of Kell Bailoch. Jardon had never imagined that he'd feel regret upon witnessing the fall of a mercenary, but Morrow help him the sniper had deserved better than a last woodland tangle with the scum of the earth. Watching one of Jarok's men test the heft of Kell's enchanted rifle seemed a desecration on par with the battle currently trampling Solomon's frozen form into the earth.

    Bad Cat's inert form was set upon by pack of bonejacks. They burrowed from the earth, and descended from the night sky on tattered wings. They were slight things, not much larger than a man, but the pack worried and gnawed at the great Nomad's chassis, and Jardon could already see the damage piling up. Absent a warcaster it could not defend itself, soon it would be a heap of jack components, if the enemy didn't decide that they wanted another Nomad for their human allies.

    Sansa giving a great shout, and launching a frenzied charge against the living enemy warcaster, her every blow a masterstroke as she pushed him back in an incandescent display of swordsmanship. Futile, of course, Jardon witnessed her weapon slip through his guard and glance off of the powerfield protecting the enemy's face. Roland seemed to catch his gaze, impossible surely, and give a conspiratorial wink, as he caught a hold of her elbow and tumbled them both to the ground.

    This last stripped him of his paralyzed composure. No more than an instant had passed, but he'd been idle for that instant. Inexcusable, in the face of the foe. He raised his blade and moved towards the Bane Throng, angling towards the body of the fallen Ace, and the monster which had laid him low. To perish avenging his friend would be his fate. He accepted it with the thoughtless composure of those caught in instants beyond themselves. He had taken his first step when he was struck on the back of the head with a rifle butt.

    The traitor, of course. Making a move to show off their true loyalty as the trap came closed around them. He toppled to the earth and rolled over, not with a fighter's quickness but with the force of the impact. The blow to his head had cut the sound from his world, and left his vision wavy and hazy, but he lifted his gaze from the bayonet pressed to his throat to the woman who held it. Lasleen, of course, spared the fate ordained her by the Black Order on account of his own foolish mercy.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  7. #127
    Conqueror Cowboy247's Avatar
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    This is going from bad to worse for the good guys. Come on Haley open that can of whoop azz


    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderingalleycat View Post
    Winning with Legion takes..not rolling 1's

  8. #128
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    He couldn't hear, could barely see, but he could feel the sharp steel at his throat. Lasleen's face filled his vision, hazy at the end of a tunnel of grey, her mouth moving but the roaring that filled his ears blotted her out. There was a rock in the small of his back, if his limbs had obeyed him he'd have shifted uncomfortably.

    He DID shift uncomfortably! He raised a hand, tentatively, and was rewarded with a tensing of the bayonet. He let it fall back to earth...just a second to gather his strength, then he'd rise up and overpower her, lead whatever was left of his force to a legendary victory. In just a a second. Sound drifted back into his world.

    "There you are!" The enemy warcaster, the living one who'd made fun of Brucker. "I can't believe they kept you with them! I thought for sure you'd died in the nonsense in that cave jail."

    "No thanks to you", Lasleen now, her beautiful voice hateful to him now that he knew of her true allegiance. "I got lucky, my fool of a captor couldn't bring himself to execute a prisoner."

    "Your sister never despaired", a voice echoing with the chill of the grave, the revenant's. "She knew that one day you would be returned to your rightful place. Even after Roland reported the disaster beneath the earth she insisted that we continue to search for you."

    "Sister? Singular?" She looked away from him as she said this. In just a second he would take advantage of this lapse to seize the rifle and rejoin the fray. Although...there didn't seem to still be a fray. Maybe everyone was having a standoff? "I have two sisters."

    "No longer" Once again the impossibly deep voice of the dead. "Lich Lord Divinitas is in the ascendance, and he has no love for the followers of Terminus. He seized the advantage of your absence. When your sweet sibling warned that you would one day return, and make whole the sundered coven, he burned her with the Master's flame."

    "Pretty shrewd move for a cadaver" interjected Darkblade. "Careful, or cowardly, but either way you are one of a pair now, my dear."

    Jardon mustered his waning strength, and make to rise, heedless of the bayonette, but Lasleen kicked him absently back to the earth, her attention still fixed on the conversation. "You don't understand our sisterhood, nor the depth of our predictions. So long as it calls, we shall answer. The grave is no threat to our union. The one pinned beneath you, Roland, is more than a Bane-To-Be. She has taken my elder sister's Blight Seed, rendered unto me before I was betrayed to the mainlanders."

    The mention of Banes To Be made Jardon horribly aware of why he'd been seized, rather than shot, by now. His life would end when the Bane Lord reached him, and within the Profane Circle he'd pass from this mortal coil to the service of Cryx. His eyes widened in horror, and he was about to rise again, when he heard a voice from within, a voice he'd not heard since the Prophet bade him serve in the very Pit of Despair.

    "Bide," bade the voice of Morrow in his soul, "All is not lost."

    A moment later he heard a voice out loud again. It was an elven voice, but not the hulking warcasters. This was low and female, and cut through the sound of the Cryxian trio's discussion. "Make ready for battle, my lords, the Thief of Hours returns."
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  9. #129
    Destroyer of Worlds marijnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cowboy247 View Post
    This is going from bad to worse for the good guys. Come on Haley open that can of whoop azz
    Queue in 3... 2...

    :P
    (sig by SnakeEyes)

  10. #130
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    "She's here?!" The undead voice boomed. It was the first time that its sepulchral tones had betrayed any urgency. "Haley is here? Why didn't you tell me!" From his position on the ground it was hard to tell exactly who the eldritch creature was addressing, but he could see that Lasleen thought it was her.

    "I haven't exactly had time." At the same time Roland began speaking, his voice tense with excitement. "Haley? The Wraith Witch's sister? I've always wanted to kill her." He rose, leaving Sansa discarded on the earth behind him. He pulled his huge blade back into alignment as he trotted over to the larger warcaster. "Do you think we'll get-"

    As though he hadn't spoken, the towering figure of the Cryxian lich reached for a skeletal claw and grabbed Lasleen by the throat, hoisting her into the air and shaking her like a rag doll. "Don't toy with me, Witch! Encountering the Thief of Hours at this time puts everything in jeopardy. You should have warned me off."

    Lasleen didn't struggle or fight the enclosing hand, but her face got grim and deadly as she stared him down. She was reaching for her hand cannon when the Darkblade flashed between them, striking the eldritch's bony forearm with the its flat and knocking the limb away. "Hands off the lady we're retrieving, bony! Orders were she comes in intact. I'm not losing her to your moment of pique."

    The creature's other hand closed around its frozen blade, and for a mad instant it seemed as though the enemy warcasters might throw down, here and now. It was not to be, however. He mastered his rage and relaxed his posture, even as Lasleen spoke again, her voice hoarse from the throttling she'd received. "My thanks, Roland. Don't be too hard on Goreshade, he's not afraid of our enemy, just the opposite in fact. He wants a favor from her, and it'll be hard to get that when she's a Bane."

    "Nonsense" interjected Goreshade. Even as he spoke his Banes were gathering, circling in around him with ritual intensity. The six that bore the Cryxlight, in particular, were moving with a purpose, weaving designs and patterns in the night, green flames crossing and criss crossing in a manner unmistakably significant.

    "He wants to live again, he wants her to turn back the hands of time, change what's befallen him." Lasleen continued, "Or am I wrong?" She moved to stand before him, her motions betraying unease, but none of it reached her face. More and more her mannerisms were falling away, the shell of 'Lasleen' abandoned to reveal a Cryxian of the foulest sort. Her military crispness had given way to the enemy's characteristic inhuman grace.

    "Aye, wrong." answered the revenant. "But enough of baseless allegations. Roland, you were correct to chastise me. Our priority is her retrieval. That has been achieved. We must bear her to Divinitas."

    Roland snorted. "Run away, when there's a cygnaran warcaster nearby with no support, and we've got like a hundred guys? Who do you think you're fooling? Does she scare you that much?"

    Goreshade responded. "Think what you will, the Heresy and I will return immediately, and we'll be taking her along with us. You and your sellswords may do as you will."

    Lasleen interjected. "Of course they can, they aren't under your sway, but do you think I won't tell Divinitas of this? If you spare our enemy, you can be assured that the Lich Lords will not spare you."

    "Bah!" The ice blade plunged into the earth. "Your baseless accusations weary me, but you shall soon command a position of great credibility to my masters. I must credit your dubious assertions then. Fine. You, myself, and the core of the Heresy, the Bane Lord and other important figures, shall make all speed for the Masters. Roland shall remain behind with his hired blades...AND the common stuff of my legion. Does that assure you that I do not value our foe's existence? I shall put scores of Banes to slay her. Does that satisfy you?"

    She was probably about to answer, Jardon couldn't be sure. She was out of time. He'd been casting his eyes about, searching for a weapon as they debated, apparently forgetting that he existed. Impossibly, he saw the weapon that Mayet had taken from the gunmage at the river ambush. Had she repaired that? He couldn't recall. Nonetheless he couldn't just let them leave without trying something. He reached out with all the speed his aging flesh was capable of, pointed it at the traitor's back, and pulled the trigger.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  11. #131
    Conqueror Cowboy247's Avatar
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    Come on Walter your Killing me here, post something today please!


    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderingalleycat View Post
    Winning with Legion takes..not rolling 1's

  12. #132
    Destroyer of Worlds vengence88's Avatar
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    You're writing skill is astounding, making me want to start writing again myself...I literally sat down and read your story start to finish...I am impressed and do hope you'' continue the good work sir.


    Currently playing: Khador
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    Factions owned: Menoth, Skorne, Trolls, Cygnar, Circle

  13. #133
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    [Sorry Cowboy! I've been really busy. I actually just finished a m****cript and sent it to an agent. I'll try and get another chapter in this weekend. I don't like to miss two weeks running.

    Thanks for the kind words, Vengeance! Reading this in one sitting must have taken a while. I haven't done a word count, but I wouldn't be stunned if DBG is approaching an actual novel in size.]

    His posture was poor, a shot with arm lifted and unbraced, while twisting and aiming through bleary eyes, but something of the Divine must have remained with him. The gun fired, the bullet flew straight and true. If it hadn't been for a vehement shake of her head he'd have shot her down.

    As it was, Lasleen gave a howl of pain and clapped a hand over her ear, staggering forwards into the Banes. Goreshade grabbed her and ran from the clearing, followed by the cluster of his minions. None of them seemed to have connected the round with his prone figure, perhaps attributing it to Victoria. With the departure of the enemy's commander a moment of stillness descended on the glade.

    Warily, Jardon looked about, he kept his motions small in an effort to avoid drawing any further attention to himself. It had been a kindly miracle that he hadn't been pounced upon and slaughtered when he fired that shot. He wasn't about to spurn it by garnering their attention now. Nonetheless he needed to know what was going on. He didn't think there was another round in the magelock pistol, but perhaps he could rise. He still had his blade.

    The Cryxian numbers appalled him. Banes drifted about the clearing, murderous shadows bearing the arms of empires past and gone. They scarce appeared diminished by the battle they had just endured, indeed there forces might have been increased. The Bane Lord seemed to have departed, but the enemy's command structure was still in place, Roland Darkblade, as he'd named himself, was carefully modifying the Bane's deployment to prepare for another fight.

    At least the Profane Circle had been disrupted. The points of cryxlight shown no more from the boundary of the forest. He could pass unmolested into Morrow's realm, so long as his soul was no snagged by the enemy caster or made somehow into one of their undying thralls. This should have been a relief, but he couldn't make it real to himself. Intellectually he knew there was almost no chance he'd see the dawn. A moment ago he'd attempted to throw his life away, but somehow it didn't signify, couldn't overcome a lifetime's habit of presuming tomorrow.

    Roland seemed to be anticipating an attack from beyond the clearing's edge, to the West, and had formed up his men to receive such an onslaught. The mercenaries had been dispatched to the clearing's edges, Croe's men naturally taking up the back, and he'd filled the clearing itself with the undead. Jardon couldn't imagine what the man thought Victoria was about to try, given that he had a medium sized army to take her on with, but the Darkblade was clearly taking no chances. For his own part, the old jailer doubted that the enemy had been correct. Haley had left before the battle, and had no reason to return now. She'd be one against hordes, no matter how powerful-

    The edge of the woods pulsed slightly, the trees distorted as though seen through an enormous bubble, and an absent sun shown on the grass at the the clearing's edge. It was temporal magic, indisputably, the sort of thing she'd been throwing around. Was Haley coming back? He lay still, praying that she was only attempting some sort of deceptive gesture. Throwing her life away would negate all that they'd accomplished since escaping the Pit.

    His heart sank. She strode into the light of the clearing with a calm and deliberate grace. The enemy drew back, obviously acting on the instructions of their commander. He moved carefully towards her, blade drawn and in the guard position. It made for quite a contrast, as her spear was held loosely at her side. He raised it slightly, as though to strike a blow, but it was his voice that crossed the space between.

    "So... The Thief of Hours" he yelled. "Do you know how my Masters will reward me when I bring them your head?" She said nothing, simply standing impassively in place. The instants had ceased to flicker about her, save for the slight distortion, the sunlight of afternoon juxtaposed impossibly into the dark of night, she made no display of arcane might.

    He seemed to have expected a response, and tried again to provoke one. "Are you mute? Wench? How great a fool are you, to come alone against my forces? It's almost insulting!" Still, she was silent, his words fell flat against the night's stillness. The mercenaries shifted, reordering themselves, though Jardon noticed that they kept to the outskirts of the circle. The Banes were as still as death.

    "Do you really think this can work out for you?" He asked, apparently unshakeable in his desire to converse. As though in answer, she took a simple step forward.

    As one the Banes leapt back a pace, blades raised to guard positions and officers shielded by the bodies of their subordinates.

    So, for all his bravado, did Roland Darkblade.
    Last edited by Walter; 06-17-2011 at 11:35 AM. Reason: fixing some of Roland's dialog...without the pause it wasn't clear.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  14. #134
    Conqueror Cowboy247's Avatar
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    The last sentence Walter, seems to me to be missing something, or am I not reading it correctly?


    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderingalleycat View Post
    Winning with Legion takes..not rolling 1's

  15. #135
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    @Cowboy: The sentence is fine, if a bit hard to read. It may be better to write it as; "And for all his bravado, so to did Roland Darkblade." Or something to that extent. Essentially, Walter is saying that even with all of Roland's Bravado, Roland couldn't help but take a step back.

    @Walter: Excellent work my friend! I'm biting my nails in expectation!
    "Hey, this human seems extra tough when he works with the trollbloods! That seems weird, don't you agree, Floating 14 year old girl possesed by the will of a god fighting a mutated ogre that ate part of dragon?" -PG_petegrrrr

  16. #136

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    I have to say there is are 2 major problems with this story:
    1) It is too addictive
    2) Walter is not a super being that can turn out more as quickly as i can read.

    On a serious note Walter I find this fantastic and have recommended it to several people. Please Please keep you the good work.

  17. #137
    Destroyer of Worlds maxxev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortarse View Post
    I have to say there is are 2 major problems with this story:
    1) It is too addictive
    2) Walter is not a super being that can turn out more as quickly as i can read.

    On a serious note Walter I find this fantastic and have recommended it to several people. Please Please keep you the good work.
    No I think point 2 is a serious issue, I for one am happy to suggest that DNA should be taken and cloning procedures started to ensure the constant and regular update of this thread..... :P
    Devilsquid - "Give a faction player a lemon, they'll cry about how they have to make lemonade. Give a merc player a lemon, he'll squeeze the juice in your eye, beat you down, and steal your lunch money". Searforge Painting & Modelling Thread




  18. #138
    Conqueror lordofnecropolis's Avatar
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    So now in the ikrpg campaign im running, wherein I plan very little, making it up as I go, cryx had taken over ord. I blame you for this, walter, your fantastic writing has sullied my mind. :P
    Amon Ad-Raza: 'Cuz with Synergy, dice rolling is just a formality.

  19. #139
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    [@ Cowboy, Beowulf: Beowulf has it exactly correct. You could read that line as "Roland also took a step back, despite his bravado". I have a fondness for flowery language that gets me into trouble from time to time

    @Shortarse, Maxxev: Thanks guys! The feedback I get is hugely motivating. Thanks for recommending it to others.

    @LordofNecropolis: Doh! Well, obviously the PC's need to get busy. Plucky heroes are the bane of Cryxian forces.
    ]

    Like shadows growing slowly as a light flickers towards the end of its lifespan, like a tides rising around a pillar off the coast, the Banes tightened their circle. None stood out form the others, no leader was apparent, save for Roland, and he waited safely back in their ranks. In uniform rows they closed in on Victoria, their numbers masking the very glade itself.

    For all that showed on her face, they could indeed have been shadows. Insubstantial and unthreatening. Victoria's gaze was clear, if unfocused, and her blank expression had none of the range that Cryx had inspired within her earlier. If she knew that she was surrounded by the enemy, she had resolved to let no hint of the knowledge appear on her visage. Her gait was implacable, and her manner undisturbed.

    It was another instant of stillness, a slight moment of calm. In a second some cuthroat would take a shot, or a Bane would surge from the crowd, and then it would all be over very quickly, but for a magnificent instant the army had halted, stopped in their tracks by the threat of one warcaster. Jardon was tempted to ascribe it to cowardice. None among them wanted to be first to dare her storied power, but the enemy had thralls aplenty who lacked the will to fear. It was inexplicable.

    And it didn't last. Roland raised his blade higher yet, holding it above his head like a conductor, and from the ground at her feat bust a blur of necrotite and dark metal. Jardon had seen the enemy's burrowing warjacks, and this was something like that, but entirely more feral and savage. It rose from beneath the soil in a flashing, sparking, blur, green glowing blades clashing and dark spikes tearing the ground to ruined fragments. It sprang at Victoria like a dog jumping on a piece of meat.

    At the same instant Roland called upon his power. Without transition he was before her, striking with the Darkblade from the left as she faced his bestial jack from the front. None of the Banes had moved, but Roland had spurned the distance between in some unknowable and profane manner, bypassing the need for the space to charge and striking with savage suddenness.

    She didn't react, save to fall under his onslaught. Her flesh was flensed and torn by the burrowing horror, the warcaster armor melting away like snow on a hot afternoon, and his cursed sword sunk deep into her side, cleaving with heartless indifference through flesh and bone alike. Jardon's eyes widened as she shifted and wavered.

    Her hair, long and golden, became close cropped and brown. Her face lost the angular perfection of the Cygnaran warcaster's, and became once again the avian visage of the woman who had traveled with him from the pit. The warcaster armor reverted to soiled prisoner's vestments, and she slumped at to earth, a lost bird brought low at last.

    He gaped. What had she come back for? Lost her life for? Did she imagine that the enemy would have ran? Had she embraced her gift at the cost of her life, mocking Haley's power despite the ruin it would wreak upon her insufficient prowess...all to pull Roland across the clearing? What difference had it made? She had done no damage, inflicted no wound. If anything she'd done the reverse, increasing the enemy's assurance. The banes had clumped up, pulled together into a defensive posture. The thought struck home with devastating suddenness.

    They'd clumped up, far more tightly than they would naturally have. To shield Roland from the presumed attack of their greatest enemy they'd formed tight ranks through which she could have no sight of their leader. And the dead center of their cluster was the area where the Ordic Warcaster had fallen, where Solomon Brucker lay.

    Roland was turning about, the moment would be lost, it needed to happen now. Jardon gazed upon his fallen leader, willing him to be somehow, impossibly alive. Willing him to have the strength to call for Morrow's power just one more time. For the first time that night he found the strength to smile, truly and from the heart, as he saw Solomon's hands rise from the earth and felt again the unleashed power of the Ace of Heroes.
    Last edited by Walter; 07-05-2011 at 07:49 AM. Reason: fix typo in cliffhanger sentence
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  20. #140
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    Strong beyond strength, the power of Morrow filled the clearing like a cleansing flood. It seemed to leap from bane to bane, from shrouded shadow to tarnished steel, and wherever it passed it stole the strength of the walking dead. A loud clattering filled the air, the eery silence of the enemy's movements abandoning them in defeat, as plate after plate, axe and shield and pike plummeted from the cold grasp of their wielders to bounce and tumble on the forest floor.

    The Benediction did not differentiate, the newly Baned toppled the same as those who had been animated earlier, the same again as those who had been brought from Cryx itself. The main strength of the Heresy perished in an instant, the clustered corpses returning to the stillness of the grave, the possessing wraiths expelled into the hungry void that awaited them. Roland shouted aloud in anguish as his army simply evaporated, shouted from this world by a Voice beyond their ability to withstand.

    As before, the power of Morrow reserved its baneful effects for the enemy's carrion soldiers. The mercenaries were entirely unaffected, and Jardon felt the icy chill of the Ace's healing energies. His head ceased to ring, his ribs ceased their complaining, he felt himself restored in an instant to the peak of health, and was delighted to see that the same thing had happened to Solomon Brucker.

    Solomon arose with ponderous dignity, miraculously not attacked as he regained its feat. Jardon would have put it down to the awe of their foes, if he'd been asked. Brucker had, with one massive expenditure of power, crushed a small army. Scattered at his feat lay the remnants of dozens of Banes. Small wonder they would shrink from engaging such a man. The Steelheads shrank back from the warcaster in their midst like piglets in the presence of a wolf. All save one.

    Roland Darkblade strode towards him, red blade unsheathed and face contorted in a grimace of fury. He yelled as he came, railing like a madman. "Impossible. I saw you DIE! Vermin! You were stabbed through the heart! This is utterly impossible!" He swung the blade through the air like a child whips a stick about, carving the space before him as he vented his aggression.

    Brucker nodded, calm and composed now. No doubt the absence of Victoria had allowed his ordinary solemnity to reassert itself, or perhaps it was the hand of his God upon him. "I apologize for the deception, ser." He drew his own with a duelist's flourish. "When your colleague struck me down, he did so using a miraculous blade, capable of melting and reforming in an instant. It was thus he evaded my parry. When his strike penetrated my chest it melted once again, reforming and bending in such a way as to render the attack nonlethal, but emerging from my back as though it was a true death blow."

    "You Apolo-" Roland choked on his own rage. With a bestial roar he hurled his blade, it tumbled end over end towards Solomon, cutting a black streak through the clearing's hush like a hand swung through mist. With a loud ring it glanced off of Solomon's perfect parry, deflected as though it was an ordinary strike. It thudded into the earth, held there for a second, and then shot back to its owner's hand as though launched from a cannon.

    "It occurred to me that if I continued to struggle, frozen as I was, I would certainly be slain in truth by the enemy I faced. If I went along with the deception, however, I might gain the chance to strike a decisive blow, as I've done. The subterfuge was not something that I would ordinarily countenance, however, so I crave your pardon for my use of trickery." Solomon didn't seem to acknowledge the attack, simply continuing to relate his explanation as though the two of them stood in a peaceful courtyard, and debated the proper conjugation of an odd participle.

    "Earlier, I challenged you to a duel. You disdained my offer. I hereby repeat it. Pit yourself against the Ace of Heroes in combat mortal." Roland waited a moment after Solomon had finished his challenge, seemingly considering, or perhaps just struggling to master his overbearing rage. Jardon thought he saw the Cryxian caster glancing towards the clearing's edge, as though considering a retreat, but when he acted it was neither to accept, nor to run...nor even to attack.

    He turned to the cutthroats and said simply "Kill him."
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  21. #141
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    "Sure thing boss" responded Jarok Croe in his laconic, almost dead, voice. He spoke from where he crouched by the clearing's edge, playing with Kell's rifle. "You want him to suffer anything in par-" "Just kill him!" Roland cut the mercenary off. "Kill him now." Jarok raised his hand high above his head, brought it down. Around the clearing his men readied their weapons, crossbows sighting in with precise expertise.

    Jarodn rose unsteadily to his feet. He would not waste the healing Solomon had bestowed upon him. Even as he did so, he felt an overpowering sense of deja vu. "Sure thing boss..." where had he heard that before? It was Sansa's favorite phrase, but the memory impinging on his awareness was older...one he had almost blocked out. This same voice, not so infamous then...Jarok Croe and his men betraying their contract, bringing down the curtain on the Age of Aces and buying sanctuary for Asheth Magnus. Hate blinded him for an instant, even as he had a mad presentiment of what was about to come to pass.

    Roland had turned back to Solomon, who stood waiting still for his response to the challenge, perhaps in order to witness with his own eyes the second death of the Morrowan Warcaster, or perhaps to guard against a last minute blitz. This put his back, necessarily to Croe and the majority of his cutthroats. He didn't see them shift their aim, didn't see the bolts, dripping poison, focus squarely on his own broad shoulders. Didn't see the thread from which his life hung snap with a sound like crossbow strings at night.

    Jardon was vaguely ashamed that he said nothing. Perhaps if he'd been an ascendant, uncompromising to the point of madness, he might have spoken up, warning even this vile of a foe that his underlings sought to take his life. Perhaps if there'd been more time. It all happened so fast, after all. But he remained silent, and the bolts left their triggers, and, one by one, they impacted.

    On the digging bonejack. Driven by its cortex to preserve its master, impelled by the protective bond which links man and war machine it rose to the surface directly behind Roland, even as the bolts crossed the distance, and took them in his place. It had no blood to poison, no flesh for the venom to rot, but even so the sheer number of projectiles took their toll on its mechanism. Roland's head shot about, the look of fury on his face settling into a mask of sheerest madness. He took in the traitorous mercenaries, saw the steelheads following their lead, and howled with absolute hate. His thread had come to its end, barring his jack's sacrifice he would even now be bleeding his last upon the soil.

    He had an instant, however, and for all that life had taken from Roland Darkblade it had bestowed in its stead the ruthless clarity of thought necessary to act in an instant. There was only one victory remaining here. He must take the life of Solomon Brucker. Everyone knew, the one who slew the enemy warcaster was the winner.

    Giving voice to another tortured roar, he charged forward, blade forward.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  22. #142
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    Good stuff as usual, keep it up.
    Devilsquid - "Give a faction player a lemon, they'll cry about how they have to make lemonade. Give a merc player a lemon, he'll squeeze the juice in your eye, beat you down, and steal your lunch money". Searforge Painting & Modelling Thread




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    Brucker remained poised and stationary as Roland pounded towards him, blade extended in the lower line, knees slightly bent and with his stance set in a duelist's sidelong posture. His only motion was made with his off hand, as he reached up and unhooked the cape from around his kneck. Just as their engagement was about to begin, he hurled it skyward with a theatrical flick of the arm, even as he parried the first blow.

    It nearly struck the sword from his hand. Where Brucker wielded a short stabbing blade, his enemy carried a sword designed from the handle to the point for naught but massacre. The Darkblade was one and a half times the size of Brucker's nameless weapon, and Roland clutched it in two hands and put it through blurring arcs, so fast it hissed and screamed in the cool night air.

    He had the reach and the momentum, and he leveraged it into a high side slash. If it had connected with flesh Solomon's head would have flown, but it struck a blade expertly raised and angled to bleed its momentum off, and press it uselessly wide of the line of attack. Brucker's counterattack was a thrust, executed like a fencing strike, but Roland simply jumped back, even as he recovered his monstrosity of a sword's position.

    Without pause he blurred through another attack, this time a high thrust of his own, two hands on the hilt still. Brucker caught it on his own sword and turned it aside, skillfully bleeding the momentum from his opponent's dire blade before challenging its force. However, Roland had not stepped in, instead he'd planted his feet and pulled the force from his blow on his own, a trap to catch the Ace in a riposte, so that he could pit for an instant the force of his Darkblade against his enemy's lighter weapon.

    Brucker was too sly for such a tactic, however, and did not immediately return the strike, hesitating the crucial beat to allow Roland to begin another movement, but not to complete it. As Roland sought to change his forceful beat parry into an actual strike Roland in stepped, and the Darkblade could not get his weight split in time to allow himself to move. Solomon caught his enemy's boot under his own and threw his body forward, avoiding the Cryxian blow by stepping inside it, in where his shorter blade could kill, but the Darkblade was naught but a hindrance.

    Without hesitation he stabbed for the gut, but Roland was suddenly gone. Unbalanced for the first time in the fight, Solomon staggered a step forward, his enemy's startling dissappearance entirely outside his realm of consideration. Jardon's heart caught in his throat as Roland reappeared, directly behind Solomon and with blade extended for a bisected strike. He'd materialized with both legs in springing position, and began his attack in the moment of confusion, as the Ace of Heroes sought to cope with his combat teleportation. He'd already begun the swing, already pushed the Darkblade through the first section of its lethal arc, when something white and opaque settled across his head and shoulders.

    Solomon's cape dropped over him like an ambush net, stealing his vision and snaring his arms. Brucker, hearing his enemy's attack even if unable to see it, ducked. It would have been trivial to dip the blade and follow him down, but Roland couldn't see, and had no way of knowing that Solomon had slipped beneath the fatal arc.

    Even as he rose from the crouch Solomon was already turning and thrusting, blade aimed directly for his foe's hideous visage. Roland had put too much of himself into that blow, his balance had been destroyed when the cape fell across him. He had recovered his footing, thrust the shroud off of his face with his off hand and was recovering the blade when Brucker's thrust sank home.

    It entered his cheek, slid between teeth, through skull and exited the back of his helm. For an instant he remained upright, held not by his own energies but by the impaling steel, and then Solomon was sliding it back into the guard position, and Roland crashed to earth with a clanging finality.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  24. #144

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    Why do i get the feeling that may not be the clanging finality Solomon believes?

  25. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortarse View Post
    Why do i get the feeling that may not be the clanging finality Solomon believes?
    Cuz its a trap! (it always is ya see. otherwise the hero cant escape a good trap, and what good is he then? )
    "...by the powers vested in me by his holiness Hierarch Severius, blessed spiritual leader of Menoth's people, I hereby sentence thee to spiritual purification. BURN HERETIC!"


  26. #146
    Destroyer of Worlds marijnh's Avatar
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    No soul-cages there, other necromancers gone, and a morrowan caster nearby... that sounds pretty final to me. Unless there is something Walter hasn't mentioned yet. ^_^
    (sig by SnakeEyes)

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    Well what's the deal with Croe's Cuttthroats? We have no idea why they backstabbed Roland, and they could still do some serious damage to the heroes of the story if they wanted. Also, I believe that Eiryss was working with Goreshade, which is totally bizarre, so lets see where that goes
    What is the best kind of struggle? Speaking truth before a tyrannical leader.

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  28. #148
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    Quote Originally Posted by marijnh View Post
    No soul-cages there, other necromancers gone, and a morrowan caster nearby... that sounds pretty final to me. Unless there is something Walter hasn't mentioned yet. ^_^
    Do you think the 20 paladins+Vilmon chillin in the woods would make a big deal?

    But I think Croe ordered the execute cuz he doesn't wanna work for somebody who's totally weak and worthless/cowardly, as this would probably result in his boys getting butchered.
    "...by the powers vested in me by his holiness Hierarch Severius, blessed spiritual leader of Menoth's people, I hereby sentence thee to spiritual purification. BURN HERETIC!"


  29. #149
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    Walter, where have you gone?? I need my fix


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    Jardon's old heart beat like a trip hammer, a staggered, staccato rhythm. He gasped for breathe, momentarily seized by vertigo.

    They had survived.

    Against a pair of warcasters, against Banes beyond counting, in the dead of night, with no reinforcements and despite the desertion of Victoria Haley, they had survived. And, as the ashes of the fallen Heresy and the corpse of Roland darkblade attested, they'd done more. They had triumphed. For an instant he was transported out of himself with pride and elation. For one moment the shroud of despair that had settled on him in the pit, and deepened with each comrade lost, was listed. His thoughts crowed aloud with triumph, a smile transformed his visage as he exulted in a victory at last.

    The feeling was fleeting, and he instantly sunk back into the world, berating himself for considering a night that had seen Sansa taken, Mayet slain, and Solomon himself defeated in battle to be some kind of triumph. They'd survived, they'd inflicted disproportionate losses, but Cryx still infested the lands of Ord. He could save his stupid smiling for after he'd done something worth smiling about. He hadn't even swung his blade tonight, it had just sat at his hip as his friends were slain and captured, as his trust was betrayed. If it wasn't for the elven revenant's inexplicable sparing of...he stifled the flow of recriminations with an effort, and strode towards the sellswords.

    A familiar figure met him halfway. Jarok Croe hadn't changed a bit in the intervening years. It didn't seem fair, Jardon felt every day of the years they'd spent apart, but the mercenary could have skipped the time between their meetings entirely for all it showed on his bland visage. The outlaw's gear was the same, his smirk was the same...the only new thing was that this time he owed the man his life.

    "Well well...if it isn't Jardon the Just." the outlaw hailed him cheerily. "Never thought I'd see the day I saved your sorry hide." He stood relaxed and at ease before Jardon, at home on the bloody battlefield, and plainly suffering no qualms of conscience for the treachery that he and his unit had perpetrated. It wasn't surprising, they'd had plenty of time to get used to that sort of thing.

    "That makes two of us." He responded, voice pitched low so as not to carry to the other outlaws, or the Steelheads. "To what do I owe the honor?"

    Jarok shrugged. "Bossman said to take any chance we got, this looked like a good one." He turned to the rest, and Jardon saw among their number the sniper Kell, who had apparently not been slain in the woods after all, he'd simply donned the broad poncho that was their favored garb and returned among them, and Jarl, who was talking to him excitedly. Jardon couldn't figure out just how Jarl had gotten over there, but it was a question that would have to wait.

    "Bossman?" he asked, already dreading the answer. "You aren't working for-"

    "Yep", said Jarok Croe, "Asheth Magnus."
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  31. #151
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    Croe seemed to see the dejection in his face, despite Jardon's best efforts to keep his visage impassive. The outlaw laughed aloud and clapped him on the shoulder.

    "Oh, come on, how did you think the second Cryxer army was being fought? Baird and the Ordic forces have their hands full protecting the capitol. Who did you think was going to fight for Five fingers?" Jarok seemed to relish the fact that the very mercenary troops that Jardon had once advocated against were now the shield of his home town.

    He continued, counting on his fingers for theatrical effect. "5 Fingers, 4 Stars, 3 Cannons, 2 Walls, and 1 man. When the invasion began the 4 Stars were contacted by the Cryxers, or so the tale has filtered down. They were told to sign up to pillage their own home nation, and instead of kicking the emissary out on their hind quarters, as 'decent' folks like you would have them do, they signed us right up....and put us to work on the inside!"

    "The Cryxers who are military folks, the Lich Lords who have been in charge of most of their strikes up till now...they are in the army fighting for the capitol. It's strictly amateur hour in the host they've sent after the Fingers. The thing in charge is some sort of priest, and it apparently hasn't occurred to him that us grubby mortals might swear oaths to the Dragonfather...and then demonstrate a certain insincerity. He uses us like any other part of his forces, and as a consequence they've suffered a number of punishing setbacks...and most importantly we've been able to give plenty of warning, and get the people out ahead of the swarm in most cases."

    "Huh" Jardon responded, "treachery and backstabbing in a good cause. I can't say that isn't a bit of a kick in the teeth. Sounds just like Asheth, too, dirty and underhanded, but awfully effective. With such thorough infiltration of the enemy I imagine the actual force imbalance must be obscene...or he'd just attack." He didn't know how highly Croe was placed, but he seemed to have a surprisingly high level view of the conflict.

    "Not as bad as you might imagine" responded Croe, "It's mostly a problem of warcasters. Like I said, the intelligence gained from our insiders has allowed the timely evacuation of most of the peasantry, so the enemy hasn't been augmenting their supply of thralls as much as they'd planned. Mags has been conserving his jacks, too, saving up for the big fight at Five Fingers. The biggest issue is in the number of warcasters, which is why I had to take the chance to save your saintly friend."

    Jardon glanced over at Solomon, who stood over his fallen foe, performing the ritual salute to the fallen, as though the intervening years and circumstances had fallen away and he had just defeated one more unfortunate challenger to his title. He was looking away when Jarok spoke again.

    "Well, that and one other reason." He looked back, intrigued, as the outlaw continued. "Roland was a massive tool."
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  32. #152
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    lol, great read keep it up .
    Devilsquid - "Give a faction player a lemon, they'll cry about how they have to make lemonade. Give a merc player a lemon, he'll squeeze the juice in your eye, beat you down, and steal your lunch money". Searforge Painting & Modelling Thread




  33. #153
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    Jardon's gaze ranged over the battlefield as he continued his incongruous chat with their blackhearted savior. He watched as each of his comrades came to terms with their uncanny survival in their own manner.

    Gerald Fesh, the gunmage prisoner, seemed to be having something of a crisis of faith, staring at his feet in the manner reserved for undeserving survivors. He'd been willing to die earlier that night, staring down Victoria and getting ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for whatever it was he believed in. But now, seeing the heroism of those he had opposed, spared by their bravery from eternity as a thrall of the dragonfather, perhaps he was having second thoughts? Jardon made a note to sound him out a little later. For now, if he wanted to run off, the jailor simply lacked the energy to try and stop him.

    Jarl had survived, naturally, and was even now circulating among the steelheads, no doubt catching up on the latest 4 Stars news. Ever since he'd hired Bailoch Jardon had suspected his connections to the famed syndicate, this made the matter blatant. His heart was in the right place though, Jardon mentally apologized for suspecting him. Who was he to judge what another might ply in service to their homeland, perhaps in the end Jarl's coins would do more good than his tired blade.

    Mayet Tath lay crumpled in the dirt, never to rise again. He couldn't claim to understand what had motivated her return, her distraction of the enemy, but perhaps it was something as simple as friendship. She and Sansa had been close. Perhaps it was Victoria's contempt, or simply Mayet's inability to keep up with a running horse, but in the end she'd chosen to come back to the camp, to emulate spellcraft well beyond her ken and take unresisting the strike of a vicious man. However she'd lived, she died a hero.

    Brucker had finished laying to rest his fallen enemy. Perhaps the rites were intended to damn his warped soul to some place of torment, but if Jardon knew his former prisoner they were probably prayers for Roland's spirit, hoping it would find its way through the wilds of Urcaen to some place of peace. Sometimes he wished the man would just get angry, just show some trace of humanity. At other times he was thankful to the depths of his being to know one man who would always do the right thing, a compass on which he could take his spiritual bearings.

    At the thought of taking bearings, Jardon's mind flashed to the three women who were not here, each no doubt coming to terms with what they imagined had happened in the glade. Lasleen, traitor and gone, just a semblance, a shell to conceal the monster within. He recalled the grace she had demonstrated in their escape and before, the bravery with which she had conducted herself, and he shuddered to realize that evil could wear such a fair form. Victoria, spurning an unprofitable battle, perhaps in thrall to the Vile Twin, or perhaps leaving of her own free will to pursue her own vengeance, not weighed down by the likes of the pitiful Ordic force. And Sansa, his strong right arm, taken against her will by the Blight which twisted her flesh, and the Banes of Goreshade, who bundled her up and bore her forth. He would see her free, if it took his every breath.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  34. #154
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    Its been 2 weeks Walter, don't quit on us now!!!


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    "Listen to me, you worm" Solomon was not raging or shouting, but speaking in the low chilling tone he used when he was trying to be scary, "I will not don the armor of the Cryxer filth." Jardon could tell he'd lost his temper because he'd actually insulted a defeated adversary. Ordinarily after one of his duels the Ace would be all praise and kindness towards the vanquished enemy. Croe had clearly gotten to him.

    The outlaw smirked. "Well, unless your God sees fit to bless us with a miracle, and make the Cryxers think Morrowan White is Skell Black, I think you are going to spoil our disguise a little bit." Several of his cohorts chortled, although a few more looked nervously at the argument, no doubt remembering Solomon's preternatural speed and skill. "Does your God smile on getting his followers killed to no tactical gain? We can make it to the city if you pretend to be Roland Blackblade. If you don't, we can't...and we'll be killed in this Menoth forsaken wilderness."

    "A miracle...huh..." murmured Brucker, eyes glazing a bit. He turned away from the Cutthroats, as though to dismiss them from his mind entirely, and took a knee to pray. Jardon took advantage of the moment to close with Jarok, speaking low enough that his words would not carry to where the warcaster knelt, though he had no doubt the fervor of Solomon's prayers would turn his ears from any worldly comments for the time being.

    "You know, anyone could wear that armor. There isn't any reason to insist it be Solomon." The outlaw grinned wickedly. "Sure there is, old timer. There's every possibility we'll have to fight at some point in this trip, whether it be because we are insufficiently disguised, or simply the typical Cryxian infighting. If our Warcaster isn't in armor it'll go poorly for us." He stopped for a moment, letting the silence fill the space between them, then, just as Jardon was about to speak again, he continued.

    "Besides, I relish the dilemma I'm presenting to that sanctimonious idiot. How often do you get to tell a Morrowan Paladin that the only way to save lives is to employ exactly the sort of ruse he's been whining about Magnus using to beat him for the last couple years? If I was the religious sort I'd thank my Patron for looking out for me." Spite shone from his narrow face as he whispered, malice and glee in equal measures gleamed from close set eyes.

    Jardon took a step back. Though they might be momentary allies, the cutthroats would never be truly on their side. They were all that was base and false in men, dregs sifting through the strainer of war, bringing misery and heartbreak to the Iron Kingdoms wherever the battles happened to wash them up.

    The silence reigned between them, broken only by the quiet sound of Brucker's prayers. Jardon didn't hold out much hope for this, crying Morrow's pardon inwardly for the small blasphemy. As he'd seen with the chest, Solomon simply wasn't any good at this sort of thing. Ritual invocations and formalized castings were far from what he was meant for. Deep down, Solomon Brucker didn't want his God's help. He was the sort of man who believed that Morrow, by letting him know right from wrong, had already done far more than he could ever repay. His own dignity prevented the sort of heartfelt beseeching that led to miraculous intervention.

    A moment passed, and Brucker stood up. He turned back to them without fanfare or flourish, and faced down Jarok Croe. A heartbeat passed, and then another, before the outlaw's voice pierced the clearing's much abused stillness. "Well?" he demanded.

    Brucker's jaws widened in a broad grin. "I asked Morrow for a suitable disguise, and he has answered!" he proclaimed. This plainly wasn't what Croe had been expecting, and Jardon wasn't exactly unsurprised himself. He raised his voice. "What is-" and then Brucker cut him off.

    "He said, 'No'."
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  36. #156
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    Just a reply to say, i'm still reading and still enjoying.

    Cheers
    Devilsquid - "Give a faction player a lemon, they'll cry about how they have to make lemonade. Give a merc player a lemon, he'll squeeze the juice in your eye, beat you down, and steal your lunch money". Searforge Painting & Modelling Thread




  37. #157
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    The impertinent outlaw simply rolled his eyes. "So, to sum up. You won't don the enemy's gear. You won't conceal your allegiance. You intend, basically, to fight your way into 5 Fingers." Brucker nodded, calmly, before responding.

    "Well, I have something like a plan, but it isn't refined yet. You've got the gist of it, however." His earlier choler had apparently dissipated during his prayer, and he once again spoke with his customary monolithic calm. It was, by pure coincidence, the same expression he adopted in a duel, the mien of a noble and impassive warrior.

    Jarok spat to one side. "Unbelievable. You'll die before you deceive your foe? That's ridiculous. You won't fight Cryx effectively because...what, it's beneath you? Your monstrous pride will endanger everyone here. Grow up, Brucker!" Jarok too wasn't as heated as one would expect in the midst of an argument. Instead, amusement and malice peered from behind his dark eyes, wickedness hissed and cracked through his voice, like a vein of flawed marble showing itself across a mountain face.

    Even before he'd finished his remark, Brucker was shaking his head. "I'll endanger no one, not in the face of the Cryxian threat, which is to far more than our lives. Those who wish to go with you, may do so. You can use whatever 'practices' you desire, and I'll restrain my censure. As strange as I'd have found it just a little while ago, we currently share a common foe, and I'll not suffer my principles to become assistants to the forces of Cryx. I'll even go so far as to thank you, Jarok. You saved my life just now, and for that you have my heartfelt gratitude."

    Croe made a rude gesture. "That, for your heartfelt gratitude. Do you think we turned on that Cryxer because we wanted to hear you thank us? We wanted an Ordic warcaster, you ***! We wanted to preserve your blade for the defense of your own homeland. Does that mean nothing to you?" Several of his men nodded their assent at this comment.

    "It means much to me." Solomon responded. "It weighs heavily in the balance, but one thing outweighs it. My soul. I must not stray from my principles, must not waver from my convictions. To do so would be to sacrifice my afterlife in order to more fully act out my hatred. It's a choice that our opponents have made long ago, and it is ultimately the reason for this conflict. I cannot defeat evil by joining it."

    "That." Jarok pointed at Solomon. "That right there, that's why I hate you all so much. I'm talking about you wearing Roland's armor and sneaking us into the city. You are talking about 'joining evil', and souls and whatnot. Why must everything be transformed into such absurd absolutes with you? How do you get up in the morning and eat breakfast?" His voice changed into a parody of Brucker's. "No, I cannot have jam with that, such an action would be giving into temptation, thereby endangering all that is right and holy."

    Brucker shook his head, sadly. "I don't see how your soul can ever be saved, Jarok Croe. It is a task I am not sufficient for. I don't think there is much more for us to say to one another." He turned away from the outlaw, fearlessly exposing his back as he walked over to where Jardon stood.

    "You know, your right." Jarok responded, voice dripping with sarcasm. "Morrow knows there's no need to talk to people who think differently from you. That's just crazy. And no need to expound on your mythical plan, we are just supposed to take it on faith, right?"

    Solomon didn't respond, kneeling and praying once again. The moonlight shone on his countenance, serene and untroubled. Behind him, the cut throat seemed to reach some internal decision, nodding slowly.

    "Change of plans, guys." he announced. "Looks like we've got a difference of opinion. Let's settle things the Ordic way. Those who want to come with me, me and my guys are going to sneak into 5 Fingers by infiltrating the enemy's forces. Let's head out. Those who have a problem with that, stay and get some praying in with the Ace here. We all saw how much good his praying did when the battle got hard." And with that, he walked away, his men falling into line behind him.

    Jardon remained by Solomon's side, silently beseeching his Patron that the others would recognize that Brucker's destiny was worth any sacrifice, that they must trust to an unseen Power, reject the easy road and abide by the precepts of just war. Had you asked him before this moment, whether there could be a circumstance in which Jarok Croe would be seen as more trustworthy than Solomon Brucker, he wouldn't have believed it. A moment later, he did.

    He and Solomon were alone in the clearing, save for the dead.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  38. #158
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    Excellent story, ended up reading the whole thing in one go lol way too addictive xD

  39. #159
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    [Hey guys, sorry for the fake update. First off, thanks for the feedback man. I really appreciate reader response. Secondly, I'm going to be at WMWeekend this weekend, with a red circle army. Say hello if you see me!]
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

  40. #160
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    It had been a long time since he'd been alone with Solomon. In fact, the last time had been the Petition for Clemency, which Prisoner 314 had brought him what seemed like a lifetime ago. The thought brought a small smile to his face.

    Brucker wasn't smiling. He still held his face in its battle mask, stern and solemn. He stood from his prayers, and without looking around he said. "Alone once again, old friend." Jardon nodded a desultory response. It hadn't really been a question.

    "Would it be so hard to go along with him? His plan is good."

    "Perhaps, but he himself is not." Jardon bent an eyebrow at that. Brucker elaborated. "I meant what I said when I told him why we I couldn't be a party to his schemes, the fact that I loathe him weighed but lightly in the scales."

    Jardon didn't have the heart for this discussion. His gut told him that Brucker had compromised plenty, and would compromise plenty more in time to come, and that the true reason behind their disastrous dispute was that Solomon couldn't trust himself not to simply gut the wretched outlaw. It was no longer relevant, in any case. They weren't about to chase after Jarok and his men, pride, if nothing else, ruled out such a course of action.

    "Come", he beckoned, "Let's leave this glade of death." They trudged off into the woods a ways, much faster now that they were two, rather than a large assembly. It was still night, still dark, yet since their victory over Roland and his minions Jardon couldn't even begin to imagine going back to sleep.

    They walked in silence for a moment, then a sudden thought occurred that made him chuckle. Solomon looked at him, then with a gesture bade him elaborate.

    "I just thought of the Aces, the days gone by...you know what that bout you just fought would mean?" Solomon saw where he was going, chuckled himself.

    "His Champion has been defeated, someone will have to tell the Cryxer King Lizard that he's lost the war. I expect he'll be mighty disappointed that he has to pack up his Lich Lords and head on home."

    The idea was ludicrous, they smiled for a few more paces. Jardon hadn't seen Solomon happy in a while, he tried to keep it going. "Hey, you going to take that bastard's title? Swap your own and call yourself from henceforth the Ace of Cryx?" At that, Brucker's face dimmed. It was hard to tell in the darkness of the forest, but Jardon could swear he'd struck a cord.

    Softly, almost too softly to be heard, more to himself than to his friend, Solomon spoke. "Roland was not the Ace of Cryx...he was not worthy to bear the Ace's scabbard. I have seen his glowing eyes...in dreams I..." He trailed off, lost in thought.

    Jardon silently resolved not to try any more jokes.
    Down But Good Completed Warmachine Fan Fiction, novel length.

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