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View Full Version : The Long Road, a short story



Mastershake
09-27-2010, 03:16 PM
EDIT: So there were parts of it that I wasn't happy with, or didn't feel were conveyed properly, so I took some input and made a fair few changes.


The Long Road

Deep within Khadoran Territory, a narrow road wound through a dense forest. A light snowfall coated the path, but it was insufficient to break through the forest canopy on either side. The scene was eerily silent as an odd trio approached. Two elven women walked side-by-side as a large warjack followed closely behind. Both of the women had smooth, young features. The elf on the left was dressed in formal attire, seemingly ill suited to long periods of travel. She wore a flowing cloak with a hood pulled over her head. Her short, white hair came down to below her eyes, partially concealing her face. The elf on the right wore the distinctive white armor of an Iosan warcaster which gave off a teal glow, giving her an almost mystical appearance. Her jet black hair came down over the left part of her face and featured a single stripe of white. She had an odd spear-like weapon slung around her back and loosely held the sling with both hands like a child holding on to their backpack on the way to school. The warjack, a massive robot twice the height of a man, was an Iosan design with prominent white armor plates that blended in with the snow on the ground. Its forearms each featured a trio of massive scything blades. It appeared to be in a traveling mode, its normal bright teal glow now soft and barely visible with arms hanging limply at its side as it strode behind the two elves in a slouched posture. The ‘jack’s pace was weirdly synchronized with the two elves making individual footfalls indistinguishable. The warcaster looked to the other elf and spoke, “How are you holding up Aiyana? I know this isn’t really what you’re used to.”

“I’ll be fine Ravyn. When I heard what you were after, I couldn’t say no. I just hope this information is right and if it is, that we can actually act on it,” responded Aiyana.

Ravyn looked down at the road, “I would’ve liked to take a larger force with us, but we can’t afford to have a big footprint while operating this far away from a base of operations.” She smiled briefly before continuing, “Vyros was annoyed when I gave him the news. He wanted to come along, but no amount of strategy could change the reality of the situation.”

“Must’ve been fun to give him that news,” said Aiyana while shooting Ravyn a smile.

Ravyn smiled back, “You should’ve been there; he was thrilled”

The elves didn’t seem at all concerned about their surroundings as they idly chatted among themselves. To a casual observer the scene was somewhat surreal. A more skilled eye, however, would notice the shifting shadows in the forest. The elves could act cavalier, even this deep in enemy territory, because they were not alone. Even their seemingly normal movement was carefully orchestrated so that the heavy tread of the warjack would conceal their footsteps. As the travelers continued their steady pace up the road, another figure walked out of the shadows and matched their pace. This figure was also an elf woman; she wore a dark green cloak with a mix of leather and chainmail. She had a prominent tattoo over her right eye and carried a crossbow at her side. Her features were largely hidden under a hood. Ravyn turned to the figure and said, “Ah, Eiryss! I trust this means we’re close.”

She replied, “Yes, it’s just up the road a little, on the other side of that rise.” She pointed up the road, and then continued, “The mage hunters are already scouting it out. There’s a hill off to the left over here that we can use to plan our approach.”

“Outstanding! Let’s get to it” Ravyn replied in a surprisingly cheerful tone that seemed to take both Aiyana and Eiryss by surprise. She then turned to the jack and said, “Stay here, we’ll be back in a minute.”

Eiryss pointed to the ‘jack and said, “will ‘it’ be ready?”

Ravyn smiled and said, “’She’, she will be ready.”

Eiryss and Aiyana both smiled at the comment. The three walked off the road to the left, leaving the jack in the middle of the path. As they made their way up, another figure on top of the hill became visible; an elf male, clad in the same equipment as Eiryss, staring off into the distance. He had a similar tattoo tattoo as Eiryss and also wore a hood over his head, but even under the hood a large scar across the right side of his face was visible. He turned as they approached and offered a slight nod in recognition of his superiors. He spoke in a deep tone, “here’s what we have so far. It’s a temporary Khadoran encampment set up on the road itself. They probably figure this deep in their territory setting up away from the road is unnecessary. From what we can tell, there are maybe a hundred men with four or five warjacks. Pretty small normally, but we’re not exactly packing an army ourselves.”

Down the hill, a little further up the road, a mass of tents was visible. There were roaring fires and men wandered from one tent to another. They were dressed in heavy coats with fur hats and didn’t seem at all attentive of their surroundings. Close to their current position was a group of three large, inactive, warjacks with various mechanical tools littering the ground. The encampment didn’t appear to have any real perimeter defenses, but there were several sentries visible from their current position wandering around the outskirts.

Ravyn seemed to take in the information and adopted a serious expression, “Good work Lorian. Now we just need a way in.”

Eiryss interrupted, “We could wait till nightfall and get what we’re looking for. Quick and easy, without a trace.”

Ravyn replied, “But at this point, we don’t know where we can find the records for transporting Nyssor. It doesn’t seem like we could do it without alerting the rest of the camp, since we’d be looking through everything. We need to plan for an all-out attack.”

“So, wait for nightfall then?” asked Lorian.

Ravyn seemed to be deep in thought for a moment before responding, “I can hear them from here. They’re celebrating and probably drunk. No need to waste any more time than necessary.”

As she spoke, another figure walked up the hill. He was a male elf wearing prominent white armor. He had a bandolier and a pack stuffed full of equipment and carried a giant compound bow on his back along with a quiver full of massive arrows. He appeared to be out of breath and looked someone exhausted. Ravyn turned her gaze and lightened her expression immediately, “Ah Hyrios, I was wondering where you and your men were. I know you aren’t used to this kind of operation, but are you up for a fight?”

He took a deep breath and said, “Yes, we swore an oath and I mean to uphold it.”

Ravyn, seeing how worn out Hyrios was from the march, placed her hand on his shoulder and said, “I’m glad to hear it, we need all the help you and your men can offer.”

Hyrios immediately straightened up and seemed suddenly infused with renewed energy. His expression rapidly changed from exhaustion to determination. He nodded at Ravyn and she nodded back. Ravyn turned her gaze back to the Khadoran encampment. Everyone else stood silently, not wanting to interrupt her. She then took a deep breath and lifted her weapon, Hellbore, off of her back. She began removing the sling from Hellbore as she spoke, “So we have to eliminate the leadership, but we don’t know where they are. I have an idea to get them out of their tents. Lorian, I want you and your men to eliminate the sentries and get into firing positions, then wait for my signal. Your priority is the enemy officers; just start working your way down the chain of command. Hyrios, I need you and the other stormfalls to take up positions on this hill and be ready to start firing on enemies as they emerge from their tents. The star strike rounds should be useful for sowing confusion. Eiryss, I’ll leave you to figure out how to best utilize the specialists we brought along. I trust your judgment. Other than dropping the sentries, I want everyone to hold until my signal.”

Hyrios interjected, “What exactly will this signal be?”

Ravyn gave a gentle smile and responded, “Don’t worry, I’m not that subtle. You’ll know when it’s time.”

Aiyana piped up, “So what are you, me and the jack going to do and how do we draw out the officers?”

Ravyn finished removing the sling from her weapon, placed it in a pocket at her side, and then responded, “Us? We’ll we’re going for a walk of course.”

Aiyana seemed unconcerned about this cryptic response and simply nodded. Hyrios waved up small group of seven archers who were dressed in the same fashion he was while Lorian and Eiryss started moving silently toward the encampment. Ravyn motioned for Aiyana to follow and began walking back towards the road. When they reached the road, Ravyn walked directly in front of the ‘jack and stared at it intensely. The soft teal glow gradually intensified and the ‘jack slowly straightened up its posture. Ravyn flashed her left hand in front of her and flexed her fingers with the jack mirroring her every move then switched to the right hand. Aiyana watched her and commented, “They’d follow you anywhere. You know that right?”

Ravyn’s expression quickly became somber as she responded without removing her gaze from the jack, “I know. I don’t want to let them down. They’ve earned this victory.”

Ravyn wrapped up the process of warming up the jack for combat and turned to Aiyana. “Shall we?” She asked almost playfully.

“By all means, lead the way.” Responded Aiyana gesturing to the road ahead.

Mastershake
09-27-2010, 07:48 PM
Ravyn and Aiyana started down the road. The warjacks previously slow drudge was replaced with mighty strides. Aiyana turned to Ravyn, “Why do you call it a ‘she’?”

“Why would I call it a ‘he’? Besides Rahn named her Discordia, so I figure it’s his own fault if his precious ‘jack is a girl.”

Aiyana laughed under her breath. The two continued their steady pace towards the encampment. As the Khadorans became visible over the rise, Ravyn noticed two patches of red snow on either side of the road. As they approached the patches, she glanced off to the side to see the bodies of two Khadoran sentries that had been shot by crossbow bolts and drug into the wood line. It took some time to get used to the tactics of the mage hunters, especially coming from the Fane Knights, but she highly prized their precision and stealth. Ravyn could see clear into the camp from their current position. When they were only about fifty feet away from the closest tents, Aiyana turned to Ravyn, “So any chance I could get a hint of this plan of yours?”
“Simple really. Walk into the middle of the camp, the humans go get their superiors to see what to do and engage in small talk until all of the officers show up. Once the officers have been exposed long enough for the mage hunters to get them in their sights, we attack.”

Aiyana seemed oddly calm as she replied, “Maybe you should let me do the talking; you don’t spend a lot of time around humans.”

Ravyn shot Aiyana a menacing glare then turned her gaze back to the camp. As they entered the Khadoran camp, the boisterous singing of drunken soldiers filled the air. The first few humans that saw them had mixed responses. Some just stared at them with vacant expressions. A few walked out of their tents, took one look at the trio, and then ducked back inside. One man, clearly inebriated, seemed to think they were just a figment of his imagination. After the first few rows of tents, Ravyn’s level of irritation had risen sharply, as none of the enemy soldiers had gone to fetch superiors. A few even offered them drinks. She placed her forehead in her palm and said softly, “Scyrah help me not kill these morons too early.”

Ravyn then stood on an empty box, her face red with anger, and shouted, “Who’s in charge here!”

Discordia, mirroring her controller’s anger, clenched one hand into a fist and slammed it into its open palm creating a very loud and distinct metallic crash that instantly silenced all celebration. The humans seemed to get the message and several ran off shouting calls of “sir” or “ma’am” as they went. The humans in the immediate area scrambled to fetch weapons and equipment while also keeping a good distance. Ravyn jumped down from the box and returned to Aiyana and Discordia. Aiyana, with a smile on her face, chimed, “So about that whole ‘me doing the talking’ thing we discussed…”

“Fine, whatever!” Ravyn shot back.

Lorian and his squad took careful aim from his position in the wood line. “What, in the name of Scyrah, is she doing?” He mumbled to himself.

He looked around at his men and said, “We’ve heard this story before, we know how it ends. Anyone fighting Ravyn is dead; they’re just awaiting the formality of Hellbore. After the officers fall, aim for the reinforcements and support personnel, don’t bother shooting her victims. It’ll take them a little while to get the jacks warmed up, so go for the mechanics before the jacks.”

Lorian stuck several crossbow bolts in the ground at his feet for easier access and took a knee. Several figures emerged from tents with entourages following them. One very prominent looking man had a large, fur-lined, cloak and the distinct arcane armor of a warcaster, built to amplify a mage’s natural abilities. He had a thick gray beard, with rugged features, and he looked to be quite old. A woman, who looked much younger, followed him closely behind. She had short blonde hair and carried an axe at her side. Directly behind the two was a soldier carrying a large banner, a practice Lorian couldn’t help but laugh at. He pointed out key individuals to his squad members, assigning them as priority targets to eliminate when the signal came. As the various officers began to converge on Ravyn’s position, several mechanics scrambled to a pair of jacks nearby. Lorian signaled his men, assigning one to each mechanic. The mechanics were working feverishly to start the boilers in preparation for a fight when Lorian let slip a silent volley of crossbow bolts dropping all of them before any could realize what was happening or raise an alarm. Lorian and the other mage hunters immediately began reloading, keeping one eye on what was happening in the middle of camp.

The old man with the gray beard, stepped up to the back of the crowd and stood on top of a box, letting his cloak flap in the gentle breeze. He was clearly no fool, keeping thirty feet of soldiers between him and the elves. At this point, Ravyn, Aiyana and Discordia were surrounded by several dozen Khadoran soldiers, bearing axes and guns, with even more scrambling from tents. The old man glared at the elves and grumbled, “Who are you? And while we’re at it, why are you in my camp and where are my sentries?”

Aiyana stepped forward, “I am Aiyana, and this is Ravyn, the Eternal Light, of Ios. We are here to negotiate.”

“Negotiate?!?” He yelled incredulously, “Negotiate about what?”

Aiyana quipped back, “Obviously we cannot negotiate with mere peons, we need to speak to whoever is in charge.”

He yelled, his voice thick with insolence, “Hold your tongue, I am Koldun Lord Khamarov! I’m in charge, and if you want to negotiate, you WILL negotiate with me! Now speak elf.”

Aiyana bowed and walked towards Ravyn. She placed her hand on Ravyn’s shoulder and said, “There’s your target. Think that’s enough time?”

Ravyn shot back as she walked forward, “It’d better be.”

Khamarov spoke as Ravyn approached, his voice thick with sarcasm, “So, ‘Eternal Light’, what exactly do you want to negotiate?”

She replied smugly, “Your surrender. If you throw down your arms, some of you may yet live.”

The soldiers started laughing, but Khamarov, seemed to realize the gravity of the situation. His brow furrowed and he stroked his beard. His mood was somber when he spoke, “So I should stop asking about my sentries then?” He took a deep breath before continuing, “If you want a Khadoran’s weapon, you must pry it from his cold dead hand. I have no quarrel with you, just leave.”

Ravyn held out her right arm, her hand extended, palm down, her expression one of absolute determination, “Human, I have a quarrel with you and all of your kind.” As she spoke she spun her wrist and raised her arm skyward causing a sudden and dense mist to blanket the immediate area.

Blunderbuss shots rang out as the Khadorans fired wildly into the mist. Khamarov shouted as he turned to his second in command, “Get them now!”

He was dismayed, but not completely surprised, as he turned around and saw his subordinate lying on the ground with a crossbow bolt in her throat. Between the shots of the Khador guns, he could hear the soft snap of bolts whipping through the air as officers fell left and right. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw explosions of liquid fire wracking tents. He turned to a random soldier and shouted, “Where is that merc? I don’t pay good coin for someone to miss out on a fight!”

The soldier nodded and began sprinting to a nearby tent. A sudden burst of ear shattering sound came from the mist in a concentrated spray shredding flesh and armor with equal ease, killing a half dozen men in mere moments as Discordia emerged from the mist. The next thing to emerge from the mist was far more terrifying. Ravyn came sprinting out towards the nearest group of soldiers and swung her blade in a wide sweep severing torsos with almost supernatural ease, killing four more in a single sweep. As she reached the end of the swing, a bolt of teal energy came from the barrel striking a man in the chest and killing him. A Khadoran soldier ran at Ravyn waving his axe, but she plunged Hellbore through his chest, and then fired a second shot hitting a man behind him. She was flowing smoothly, almost effortlessly between shooting and striking, felling a man with every swing and shot and leaving a trail of blood and bodies behind. The clumsy axe swings and Blunderbuss shots of the soldiers couldn’t make contact with the nimble elf as she carved through them.

Mastershake
09-27-2010, 07:49 PM
Khamarov looked back to where the runner had gone, “Finally, what am I paying you for? I’m giving you good coin, so the least you can do is show up!”

Eiryss Smiled at him and leveled her crossbow.

Khamarov sighed deeply, “So that’s how it is then? I told them I didn’t want a damn elf, but everyone said you were so reliable. ‘She works for nothing and always gets the job done’ they said. I guess this is where we pay the real cost?”

A small number of soldiers who figured out what was going on tried to jump Eiryss, but she was able to get a shot off at Khamarov before they could get to her. Khamarov felt a sharp pain in his right shoulder as the bolt connected. He grasped it with his left hand and yanked it out. The searing pain soon gave way to the realization that the shot was causing his armor to malfunction and interfering with his ability to cast spells. He glanced up at Eiryss briefly and saw that his men were having no more luck trying to pin down this elf than trying to get Ravyn.

He glanced back to check on Ravyn and was nearly crippled by pain as the blade of Hellbore stuck into his chest. He instinctively grasped at the shaft of the weapon with both hands, his face contorted in agony, but any hope of survival quickly faded when he realized that not only was there a large blade in his chest, but directly beneath it was the barrel of a gun. He stared at Ravyn who was almost frozen mid-lunge, arm fully extended, still spattered with the blood of his men and now his own. She stared back at him with a perfectly calm expression and said softly, “Do not burden yourself in these last few moments, mage, your surrender would not have spared your life.”

With that, she pulled the trigger, firing a bolt of energy through his chest and causing the body to fall limply off of her blade. She was so focused; she almost missed a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye. She was barely able to move out of the way in time to avoid a massive axe wielded by an enemy warjack. This beast was slightly larger than Discordia, clad in soft red armor. It wielded a massive axe the size of a man in one hand and a large iron fist in the other. The axe was swung with so much force it embedded itself in the ground. As the clumsy monster tried to pull its blade from the ground, Discordia appeared and shoved the massive blades on her forearms into the ‘jack’s chest, knocking it back. She then removed the blades and spun on the spot adding momentum to a slice with both weapons. Discordia’s movements were far more graceful than it seemed like she should be given her size. The thick armored hide of the Khadoran jack offered far less resistance than it seemed like it should as the blades screamed through armor, tubes, and pipes all with equal ease spraying oil and smoke onto her solid white armor. Discordia then jumped forward, shoving a knee into the Khadoran’s jacks head and knocking it on its back. Ravyn thought to herself, “Damn, there’s another mage!”

Hyrios and his men were taking careful aim and looking for clumped up groups to target. The advanced ammunition they used was quite large and they couldn’t carry enough to waste it on single enemy soldiers. As he loaded another arrow, he caught a glimpse of something on the road behind them. He turned around to see a Khadoran squad marching down the road, complete with a large, dual axe-wielding, warjack. He called to his men, “Cease fire, targets behind!”

The mage hunters had all surrounded the camp, Hyrios and his seven men were all that stood between this enemy squad and the rest of the task force. The archers quickly spun around and readied arrows. “Ready, aim, fire!” Shouted Hyrios as he and his men let high explosive arrows fly.

The skilled archers carefully weaved their arrows through the multitude of trees to strikes their targets spraying shrapnel through the enemy unit, killing or crippling all of them. The enemy warjack turned its head to look at them, and then began sprinting full speed. Hyrios reached for an armor piercing arrow, drew back and let fly. The shot impacted at the left shoulder and the ‘jack’s left arm immediately fell limp and dropped its axe. The jack kept coming despite heavy damage as Hyrios loaded another armor piercing shot. When he finally got to full draw, the ‘jack was only twenty feet out. Hyrios let fly and the round struck home directly in the head. Hyrios and the other archers had to shield their faces from the hot shrapnel. As he lowered his hand, he saw the smoking wreckage of the ‘jack, inert on the ground. He breathed a heavy sigh and turned to his men, “It’s not over yet, keep providing support, I’ll get any survivors.”

His men nodded and turned back to the camp. Hyrios started walking down the hill towards the Khadoran squad. He slung his bow across his back and drew his blade. As he approached he heard one of the enemy soldiers calling for help. He glared at the man and put his blade to the man’s throat, “This mercy is far more help than you and your kind deserve. Consider yourself lucky I’m not letting you suffer.”

Mastershake
10-03-2010, 12:24 PM
Ravyn glanced back to Eiryss as Discordia dealt the fatal blow to the enemy warjack. Eiryss nimbly ducked under an axe swing from the last enemy soldier fighting her and plunged her saber through his chest. Ravyn then surveyed the immediate area for enemies and saw only a few wounded crawling through the blood-drenched snow. She walked over to Eiryss with Discordia in tow. “There’s another mage, he must be on the other side of the camp.”

Eiryss simply nodded and left. Ravyn began making her way through the maze of tents. The sounds of crossbow bolts whipping through the air and gunfire were giving way to the screams of the wounded. She stopped briefly and climbed atop Discordia to get a better view of the camp. Off to the far side, she could make out a group of soldiers. The Soldiers wore heavier armor than the rest and were armed with large shields and spears. The formation of twenty or so men had formed themselves into a large half circle with their shields closely locked together. From this distance, she still hear the sound of crossbow bolts hitting metal shields. The enemies appeared to be weathering the volleys well enough. Ravyn hopped down from Discordia and broke into a sprint towards formation, her warjack close behind.

When Ravyn arrived she could hear someone barking orders from the other side of the wall. Her quarry was just on the other side. She held her right hand to her chest clenched in a fist and lowered her head. As she did so, a large ring of runes, at least fifteen feet across appeared around her feet. When she raised her head again, her eyes were glowing bright teal. She broke into a full charge towards the middle of the shield wall, her calm expression replaced with righteous fury. Ravyn’s arrival had not escaped the notice of the enemy soldiers who set their spears to receive a charge, but no amount of preparation could save them. When Ravyn reached the edge of their spears, she swung Hellbore in a massive, sweeping, arc. The blade cleaved through spears, shields, armor and flesh like a knife through butter, making a mockery of the enemy soldier’s efforts. She then effortlessly transitioned into her previous pattern of shooting and striking as the enemy soldiers desperately tried to keep her from their commander.

At the back entrance of the camp, a mysterious figure approached. She was another elf who wore little armor and her clothing consisted of a light armor pad over her chest with a skirt and small equipment bandolier. Her short hair, a pale magenta color, fluttered in the breeze as she quietly walked up behind the battle in progress. Her footsteps were muffled by the sound of shattering armor and screams of pain as Ravyn barreled through the enemy shield wall. She carried a long chain stretched over her shoulders with a blade in the right hand and a counter weight in the left. She started twirling the large blade, gradually letting off more slack causing it to swing in progressively larger arcs. The Khadorans seemed completely occupied with the elves to their front and none had noticed the figure’s approach. One enemy in particular caught her eye. He was yelling orders and wore the distinctive armor that marked him as a mage. He was a younger man, with long black hair. She began whistling a tune; an old elf song that every child had heard. The man turned back with a confused expression on his face.

His expression rapidly changed to absolute terror as the blade shot out of the elf’s arm. He felt a sudden choking sensation as the chain hit the side of his neck and wrapped around once. Before it could make another rotation, he caught the gaze of the elf. She smiled the cruelest smile he had ever seen, before yanking on the chain. He briefly felt the chain grind around his neck before the cold steel of the blade severed his head from his torso. The elf caught her blade as the man’s head fell to the ground.

Ravyn plunged the bladed back end of Hellbore into a soldier’s chest, then fired the weapon past her to another soldier behind her. She took a moment to look around and saw all of the enemies dead and the mysterious figure standing over the body of the enemy commander. The runes at her feet and glow in her eyes faded as she stood up and started walking towards the figure. She smiled and said, “Nice to see you Ceyla.”

Ravyn looked down at the beheaded corpse before glancing back and saying, “Looks like you’ve made a mess again.”

Ceyla nodded and said, “Couldn’t let you have all the fun now could I?”

Ravyn surveyed the area. The only sounds were a few faint cries of the wounded, occasionally punctuated by a scream as the mage hunters started putting all survivors to the sword. Aiyana and Eiryss walked up. Ravyn shot Aiyana a confused expression and asked, “Where did you go during all of this?”

Aiyana smiled and responded, “Direct combat isn’t really my thing, but believe me, I was around.”

Eiryss interrupted, “I’ve got Lorian looking through the tents for the information we need. We should be able to leave shortly. I’ve also arranged for the mage hunters to dispose of the cortexes of the enemy jacks. The warjack chassis are useless without cortexes to control them and that’s one less piece of human magic to worry about.”

Ravyn nodded in approval. She caught sight of Hyrios off in the distance, walking down from the hill. She walked off towards Hyrios with Aiyana following behind and left Ceyla and Eiryss to supervise the cleanup. Hyrios waved at Ravyn signaling to her that he needed to talk. Both Ravyn and Aiyana quickened their pace. As they got closer, Hyrios began speaking, “There was an enemy patrol that came on the road behind us including a jack. We put them down, but it was close.”

Ravyn smiled enthusiastically, “Great job, I knew we could count on you.”

Hyrios waved his men away and they gave the three some room to speak in private. “I just thought you should know that this kind of fighting isn’t something we’re used to. My men don’t typically have to stare down enemies charging at them. They’re putting up a good front, but I can tell they’re more than a little shaken by the encounter.”

Ravyn’s smile faded, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Hyrios smiled and shook his head, “We took an oath, so we’ll do whatever we need to. Our lives are Nyssor’s and yours to do with as you will. I’ll keep you updated.”

Ravyn smiled and nodded, but paused briefly before saying, “I wanted to talk to you about this oath. You don’t need to swear your lives to me, I trust your dedication.”

Hyrios grinned, “With respect, the oath isn’t for you. Not all of us find the prospect of giving our lives over an easy one to deal with. I had the men say their last goodbyes to their families before leaving, so they would be absolutely focused. We will follow you to whatever end.”

With that, Hyrios gave a slight bow and walked off towards his men. Ravyn and Aiyana turned back to the camp and started walking. Aiyana spoke without shifting her gaze, “Are you sure it was a good idea to bring them along?”

Ravyn shot Aiyana an angry glare, but didn’t respond. As they made their way through the camp, they saw Lorian and Eiryss having a heated discussion a good distance off. Lorian caught a glance of Ravyn and Aiyana and pointed to them. Eiryss turned to look, and then started walking towards Ravyn with Lorian close behind. Eiryss nodded before speaking, “We have what we were looking for...”

Before she could continue, Lorian interrupted, “It’s both good news and bad. We should find a place to camp for the night before discussing this in detail. We can’t be sure when another patrol will show up and potentially give away our presence.”

Eiryss seemed to be holding her tongue, but only just, “We have what we need, we shouldn’t waste time talking about it.”

Ravyn replied in a calm tone, “I can’t just have everyone move out without knowing what we’re getting into. I’m sorry Eiryss, but we have to review the information.”

Eiryss snipped back, “If that’s how you see it, then we should part ways for now. If I have to, I’ll do it myself.”

With that Eiryss pushed her way past Ravyn and started walking towards the back of the camp. Ravyn looked to Lorian and said, “So I trust this means Nyssor is close?”

Lorian’s stoic expression remained unchanged, “We need to have a long talk about this. There’s a spot not too far from here where we can set up camp for the night.”

Ravyn nodded, “then we shouldn’t waste time. Finish collecting anything useful and get your men ready to leave. Let Hyrios know about it as well.”

Lorian nodded and left. He started barking out orders as he walked away. Ravyn walked towards Discordia. She placed her hand on the warjacks arm and stared at it for a moment. The ‘jack slowly slouched over and its arms again went limp as the teal glow around it faded. Aiyana, still several steps back from Ravyn, spoke, “What if EIryss is right? If we have information about Nyssor, we should act!”

Ravyn didn’t turn her gaze from Discordia before responding, “I trust Lorian. He’s been doing this for a while and if he has reservations, we have a problem.”

She turned back towards Aiyana, “I’m eager to get Nyssor as well, but if we act rashly we could just end up losing him again.”

Aiyana nodded, but didn’t seem pleased with the response. Ravyn, Aiyana and Discordia started walking towards the back of the camp and made their way up the road towards the camp site.

Mastershake
10-03-2010, 03:16 PM
Complications


Ravyn walked up to a campfire. Already seated around it were Aiyana, Lorian, Hyrios and Ceyla. She took a seat next to Aiyana and Lorian. She turned to Lorian, “So, we’re all here and we’ve got some time. What is the situation?”

Lorian gave a deep sigh before starting, “Well ladies…” Hyrios glared at Lorian, and Lorian smiled and nodded at him briefly before continuing, “Good news first, we know where information on Nyssor’s location can be found. It’s up the road only a few days travel, the same place those soldiers were headed.”

Aiyana interrupted, “Then why are we here and what’s there to talk about?”

Lorian looked her squarely in the eyes and said, “Because the bad news is that the location is an enemy fortress. We were lucky to get away from the last encounter with only a few wounded. The intelligence we have on the fort isn’t exactly new, but it should be enough to form a plan.”

Ravyn gave a deep sigh. She stared into the fire and said, “So what are we up against?”

Lorian looked around at the others gathered and started, “Most recent information has the garrison at around a thousand soldiers with several dozen ‘jacks…”

Hyrios interrupted, “Wait, they have more jacks than we have infantry?”

Lorian laughed before continuing, “Yeah, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair. Anyways, the walls are thick, but last intel says they don’t have any permanent gun emplacements. That means the only real artillery at their disposal is going to be whatever they or their warjacks can carry. The information we got from the enemy encampment gave us a really good idea of where Nyssor’s location could be found, so we wouldn’t necessarily need to conduct an all-out assault. If we move quickly, we can be there inside of two days.”

Ravyn nodded, “We need to get that information back to Ios, whatever the cost.”

All gathered at the circle nodded in unison. An eerie silence fell over the gathering interrupted only by the crackling of the fire. After several moments Ravyn looked around, “We’ll move out at first light.”

All those gathered nodded and left one-by-one until only Aiyana and Ravyn remained. Aiyana held her palms up to the fire and rubbed her hands together, “What’s the plan this time?”

Ravyn exhaled deeply, staring at the fire, “I’ll let you know when I come up with one. We have some time.”

Aiyana turned to Ravyn, “Everyone here has dedicated their lives to Nyssor’s recovery. I know you don’t like it, but you may have to make sacrifices.”

Ravyn didn’t respond. Aiyana stood up and walked off to her tent. Ravyn stared at the fire thoughtfully for several moments before leaving as well.

The following morning a familiar sight graced the road heading towards the fort. Ravyn and Aiyana walked along with Discordia in travel mode following closely behind. The snowfall had ceased, but a light powder still covered the path. Lorian and the mage hunters darted through the forest maintaining a keen vigil for anything out of the ordinary as Hyrios and his men struggled to keep pace on the rugged terrain. Hyrios knew there was a reason to keep any concentration of troops off the road, but it didn’t lessen the toll the terrain was taking on his legs and lower back. Ceyla was nowhere to be seen, but that was nothing new. She seemed to disappear and reappear at will even under the observation of the seasoned mage hunters.

Ravyn seemed lost in thought. She was staring down at the road as she walked. Aiyana looked over to her, “So where do you think Eiryss is now?”

Ravyn laughed briefly, “Probably already at the fort selling her services to some other poor bastard.”

Aiyana chuckled, “Even dogs seem to learn when they get bitten often enough.”

It was a long day of travelling for everyone, but even so, they made good time. By evening Ravyn considered stopping for a rest, but elected to keep going through the night. The further they were ahead of any potential messengers sending word of the previous day’s massacre, the better. It was nearly nightfall when Lorian came running to the road. “We need to get off the road now!” He urged.

Ravyn had learned better than to argue, she motioned to Aiyana and commanded Discordia to follow them. They had ran a good distance into the forest before Lorian finally stopped. The road was barely visible from their position. Lorian pointed to Discordia and motioned to a depression that looked deep enough to conceal the jack. Ravyn nodded and Discordia sauntered into the depression. Ravyn spoke in a whispered tone, “So we’re off the road, what’s going on?”

Lorian looked around before speaking, “We have company.”

“Have the humans found us?”

Lorian shook his head, “No, worse. I’ll show you, but we have to be silent.”

Ravyn and Aiyana nodded and followed Lorian into the forest. They walked for a few moments before arriving at a ridgeline. Several mage hunters were already at the ridgeline hunched over and staring at something in the distance. Lorian took a knee at the ridge and motioned for Aiyana and Ravyn to do likewise. As they took a knee, Lorian pointed to a small clearing in the distance and whispered, “We just caught sight of them a few moments ago. They definitely aren’t Khadoran. We’ve also seen them scouring the forest for something, but damned if I know what.”

Ravyn followed his gaze to the clearing where a group of mysterious figures gathered. Most of them appeared to be some unholy meshing of undead and machine with large, piston-driven, mechanical fists. As Ravyn scanned the crowd, she also noted two large warjacks with eerie green glows emanating from chambers in their chests and massive claws on either hand. One creature in the crowd stood out among the rest. He was some perverse blend of machine and undead with large spider-like legs instead of feet and a crane melded to his back. His features were that of a troll, albeit severely decayed. He was pointing and gesturing in various directions and all of the other undead and warjacks seemed to be following him. Lorian spoke in a soft tone, “If I had to guess, I’d say minions of Toruk. We’ve looked for ways around them, but those mechanical undead…things are everywhere.”

Ravyn whispered back, “We don’t have time for this. We’ll have to just go through them.”

Lorian looked surprised, “But we don’t know how many of those things there are.”

Ravyn glanced back, “Without their leaders, those things are just mindless thralls. If we take down that one,” She pointed to the large troll-spider, “the rest shouldn’t be able to put up much resistance.”

Lorian nodded, “So how do we want to do this?”

Ravyn looked over the camp for a minute, “There aren’t that many right now, we just have to keep reinforcements from coming in. Ceyla, Discordia and I should be able to get to the leader; we just need a little support.”

Aiyana added, “Something isn’t right, they shouldn’t be here.”

Ravyn Shrugged, “I agree, but that doesn’t change what we’re here to do.”

Hyrios and his men soon arrived. They looked winded from the day's travel. Hyrios, taking a cue from everyone else, took a knee and whispered, “So what’s going on?”

Ceyla, from behind him, said, “They’re in the way and we’re going to kill them.”

Hyrios jumped at the sudden appearance of the assassin and struggled to keep the volume of his voice down, “Where, in Urcaen, did you come from and why is nobody else surprised?”

Lorian gave a chuckle, “First time working with an assassin?”

Hyrios shot back, “Don’t pretend that didn’t scare you.”

“Would you two shut up?!” Ravyn barked.

They both straightened up immediately. Hyrios glanced back at Ceyla, who shot him a wicked grin and winked, before looking back to Ravyn. Ravyn surveyed the terrain briefly before continuing, “There are two choke points around the clearing. One is leading to the road, and the other opposite. I want Hyrios and his men to watch the road, and Lorian to take a group to watch the other side of the clearing. If any enemy reinforcements approach, take them out. Aiyana and the remaining mage hunters will cover Ceyla, Discordia and I as we attack and make our way through to the leader. Short and sweet. Any questions?”

All gathered shook their heads. “Good, start moving out, I’ll give you a few minutes to get into position before we attack.”

Hyrios and Lorian nodded then got their respective forces together and started moving. Ravyn started removing the sling from Hellbore as Ceyla began stretching out the long chain on her weapon. Discordia had already begun walking towards their position and Ravyn met her halfway to begin start up procedures. Ceyla twirled the large blade on her chain as she impatiently awaited the order to strike. After a few moments, Ravyn and the now operational Discordia walked up to the ridge. Ravyn looked at Ceyla and nodded. Ceyla simply smiled and turned towards the clearing.

Mastershake
10-03-2010, 06:56 PM
Ravyn and Ceyla began walking towards the clearing. Ravyn was resting Hellbore across her shoulders as she walked. Her stride was longer and more deliberate than before as she made her way through the forest. Discordia was mirroring her masters determined pace. Ceyla was skipping along, maintaining her position directly to Ravyn’s right. She looked over and asked, “So are we talking this time?”

Ravyn had a look Ceyla had never seen before, an expression of vengeance, her brow furrowed in anger. She didn’t turn her gaze when she responded, “No, these vile creatures deserve no mercy and no chance to surrender or escape. They are affront to Scyrah and all life. Kill them all…every last one.”

Ceyla seemed unconcerned with Ravyn’s sudden change of tone and merely nodded. As the trio made their way through the forest and neared the clearing, neither the thralls nor the master seemed to notice their approach. Ravyn was almost on top of the mob of thralls before the troll-spider noticed them and turned to get a better look. Ceyla had disappeared again, fading effortlessly into the forest, but Discordia trudged prominently behind her controller. The troll-spider glared at the elf and yelled, “Who is this? We weren’t expecting visitors. State your purpose or meet your end!”

Ravyn’s response was a sudden sonic blast from Discordia killing a dozen of the tightly packed thralls and seemingly shocking the troll-spider. It yelled, “Damn you elf! If you want a fight, Arragus, the mighty troll-lich will give you what you seek. I will devour your soul and use your corpse to fuel my war machines!”

And at that, the battle was joined. Arragus summoned arcane energies and waved his thralls and ‘jacks forward. Ravyn again lowered her head and held her right hand, clenched in a fist, to her chest causing a swirling vortex of arcane energy to appear around her. She charged in to the formation, her first devastating sweep sending appendages and mechanical parts flying through the air. Discordia discharged her sonic weapon again, the earth shattering sound equaled only by the level of destruction. One of the enemy warjacks closed with Discordia, cutting massive scars across her shoulder pads with its claws before shoving its tusks into her chest. Discordia’s vengeance was far worse as she dropped both arms, scythes and all, down on the warjack’s carapace sending sparks flying in all directions as the massive blades crushed the warjacks armor and severed pipes and lines. The enemy warjack’s arms fell limp at its sides and it seemed to completely shut down under the weight of the massive blow. Discordia pulled the blades out and the enemy warjack wavered for a moment before dropping to the ground, crushing several thralls in the process.

The second enemy warjack began moving towards Discordia. Out of nowhere Ceyla’s blade flew through the air on its long chain and pierced the warjack’s head, surgically removing its cortex and causing it to come crashing to the ground as well. The enemy thralls were slow and clumsy, but also numerous. Blows from their large mechanical fists were beginning to tell on Discordia’s armor. Arragus hurled bolts of arcane energy at Ravyn, desperately trying to stop the elf’s rampage, but often the bolts just struck and killed his own thralls. Another earth shattering sonic pulse from Discordia sent bodies flying and ripped a deep gash in Arragus’ torso. He screamed obscenities as more thralls began to appear from all around them. It was already too late. Ravyn swept Hellbore in a massive arc, clearing all of the thralls between Arragus and herself. Then, like a practiced routine, Ceyla leapt over Ravyn and sent her blade through the gash in Arragus’ torso. The blade out the back as the vile creature shouted opposition. Ceyla’s cruel smile flashed as she reeled the blade in, sending pieces of Arragus in all directions.

Hyrios and his men stood vigil in a valley connecting the clearing to the road. Sounds of battle, including the distinctive sound of Discordia discharging her weapon could be heard in the distance. Hyrios breathed a sigh of relief, believing the battle would soon be over. They hadn’t seen anyone since they had set up their positions. As he looked out into the darkness, he caught fleeting glimpses of shifting shapes. They were like shadows, both there and not at the same time. He motioned for his men to stand ready. He grew concerned as the shadows got closer. He loaded an arrow and pulled his bow to full draw, then sent it flying at the closest shape. The arrow passed through it and detonated on the other side. Two more arrows from Hyrios’ men were fired with the same result. The shadows were getting unnervingly close. Hyrios commanded, “Load and hold at full draw. Wait for my command to fire!”

He and his men held arrows at full draw as their aim followed the shifting shadows around. Hyrios had trained for years on the massive compound bow, but his arms were still screaming opposition to holding a full draw for so long. The few moments seemed like an eternity. Finally, when it felt like he could hold it no longer, the shadows got close enough that the horrifying forms of undead warriors became visible through the shadows. They were vile creatures, with heavy armor and their heads were skulls adorned with unholy runes. They were floating over the ground as they raised their massive axes to strike. He then gave the order his men’s arms had been desperately waiting for, “Fire at will!”

The volley of high explosive arrows wreaked havoc at such close range, shattering the monsters on impact. Hyrios was already pulling a second arrow from his quiver before the first had even impacted. He started loading and pulling his bow to full draw. As he did so, he was already aiming at his second target, another nearby creature. Before he got enough draw behind the arrow to fire, it had already cleaved one of his men in two. He yelled in anger as he fired the arrow. The creature’s hollow skull seemed to laugh at him in the split-second before impact. He couldn’t dwell and yet again was already grasping another arrow before the last had struck home. His next target was obvious. Another of the creatures was now barreling down on his position. By the time he had drawn the bow enough the fire, the creature was at point blank range. “Fine, be that way!” he yelled as he let the arrow fly.

As soon as the arrow had left his bow, Hyrios turned and dove for the ground. The next sensation he felt was searing pain, but not the pain of an axe blow. He could barely make out the shape of a piece of white-hot shrapnel in his left shoulder. He screamed in agony, his face contorting in pain. He saw one of his men running towards him with a blade. The archer started digging into the wound to get the shrapnel out. The ad-hoc surgery was an entirely new level of pain and Hyrios let out a cry that could awaken Scyrah herself. Between screams, he glimpsed the shrapnel being tossed off to the side. The pain gradually receded into a dull burning sensation. The archer offered to help Hyrios up. Hyrios turned his hand aside and gradually pulled himself to his feet. The wound still burning, he looked around. Only three of his men were visible. He looked at the others and they just shook their heads. He nodded and knelt over to pick up his bow. “We paid a hefty price for this ground. It’s just bad business to give it up without a sizeable mark up.”

Mastershake
10-03-2010, 06:56 PM
Lorian and his men had set up position on the other side of the clearing to Hyrios. Lorian was keeping one eye out for potential reinforcements and the other on Ravyn. Many considered her to be unstoppable, but Lorian didn’t want the Eternal Light herself to fall on his watch. The sounds of battle echoed loudly and from what he could tell, it was almost over. His gaze was quickly drawn by the sight of movement from the other direction. As he looked off into the darkness, he saw the approach of unholy creatures, very different from the thralls Ravyn was fighting. They wore heavy armor and carried shields and spears. Their heads were skulls with bizarre runes carved into them and they appeared to float over the ground. The dense forest didn’t slow their advance as they simply passed through trees and rocks.

Lorian’s men had already started firing crossbow bolts. Some found their marks through the thick armor, but the losses only seemed to make the creatures advance faster. Lorian began loading and firing, but quickly realized they weren’t going to get them all in time. As he slung his crossbow and started drawing his blade, he noticed the figure of Aiyana at his side. He looked perplexed, “What…”

Aiyana interrupted him, “Commander, perhaps you should order a charge and send these vile beasts back to void.”

He nodded and signaled his men to draw swords. With a mighty shout he yelled, “Charge!”

Aiyana made a simple gesture at the creatures causing a rune Lorian had never seen before to appear around all of them. Lorian and his men broke into a full charge towards the creatures. Lorian had one of the monsters directly in front of him. When he was only a few feet away, he leapt through the air, adding momentum to his blow. The sword pierced the creature’s helmet with almost supernatural ease and shattered its skull. He planted his feet on its chest and rode its limp body to the ground. As he looked around, he heard one of his men call, “A little help here!”

The mage hunter was narrowly ducking blows, but couldn’t find an opening for an attack. Lorian shouted as he came at the creature from behind, “Got ya covered!”

The other mage hunter, seeing Lorian’s approach, pinned the creature’s spear to the ground with his sword, temporarily immobilizing it. Before it could break the weapon lock, Lorian plunged his blade through the back of the creature’s helmet. Lorian motioned to another mage hunter in trouble and the two proceeded to help. As the last of the creatures finally fell, Lorian looked around. He had lost quite a few men in the encounter. He started marshalling wounded and dead when something far darker appeared. It was large, larger than the rest of the creatures, but concealed by an ever shifting shadow.

Lorian fired a crossbow bolt into the shadow, but it simply came out the other side. He drew his blade yet again along with two other mage hunters nearby. As the creature grew closer, the shadows slowly gave way to reveal its true form. It was a real monster, much like the others, but stitched together from multiple corpses and wielded a massive, two-handed, axe. It gave a mocking laugh as it approached. Yet again Lorian caught Aiyana out of the corner of his eye. She gestured at the creature creating the same rune as before around it. She looked at Lorian and said, “Commander, send this one back as well.”

Lorian nodded and the three mage hunters charged. The creature seemed unconcerned and held both arms out wide with its axe in its right hand. It gave a mighty cry that would’ve shattered the nerve of lesser elves, but Lorian’s men pressed their charge. The first mage hunter plunged his blade through the beast’s right arm, pinning it to a tree, before rolling out of the way. The creature looked at the blade and moved its left arm to grab its axe. Before it could do so, the second mage hunter slammed his sword through the armored gauntlet on his left arm and through its armored chest plate pinning its left arm to its chest. The swords seemed to be cutting through the armor with unnatural ease. As the creature tried to free itself it saw Lorian coming in for the killing blow. It laughed boisterously, “You think this will end me, I shall return!”

As Lorian sailed through the air with his blade aimed firmly at the creature’s skull, he yelled, “Back to the void with you!”

With that the creature disappeared in a cloud of shadow. Lorian looked back, but Aiyana had vanished as well. He and his men retrieved their blades. Even with their losses, they still had a job to do. Ravyn was counting on the enemy not getting reinforcements, so they would hold their position no matter the cost.

Back in the clearing, the shattered pieces of Arragus, littered the ground. The thrall’s actions had become increasingly disoriented without the constant supervision of their master and cleaning the remainder up was a simple matter. As Ravyn sank her blade into the last thrall and gave a quick twist for good measure, Discordia and Ceyla gathered around. Ravyn turned to them and looked like she was going to speak until a mysterious voice echoed through the clearing, “I know why you’re here.”

Ravyn and Ceyla looked around, trying to find the source, but in the darkness they couldn’t make anything out. Then a figure appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. He almost looked like an elf, but his flesh was pale and decaying. He wore the thick armor of a mage and carried a large, ice-covered, sword. He spoke again, his voice sounded like a whisper, but echoed all around, “I am looking for Nyssor as well. I too want to save all of our kind from destruction. We can help each other.”

Ravyn looked puzzled as she looked over the figure, then her gaze rested on his sword. It took a moment for her to realize that the blade he was holding was the blade of Nyssor. Her face instantly contorted in rage as she yelled, “You, you’re the one who tried to kill Nyssor!”

The figure looked suddenly shocked, “I am doing this for our people…”

Before he could finish he found a glowing rune around him. He looked up to see Aiyana gesturing towards him, her eyes filled with energy and expression full of rage. He looked back at Ravyn and Ceyla to see they were both charging towards him. Ceyla’s blade whipped out well ahead of Ravyn and the figure narrowly ducked under the strike. He yelled out as a mob of the creatures that attacked Lorian and Hyrios spewed forth from the forest, “I will not let your ignorance destroy our people’s future!”

He disappeared behind a wall of the vile creatures. Ravyn shouted in anger as she swung Hellbore through the monsters, “Come back here you coward! I will end you!”

Even the horrifying monsters of the void were little match for Ravyn’s rage. As she hacked down the last of them she looked around for the figure, but he was nowhere to be seen. She called out in a fit of rage as she fired shots into the forest, “Fight me you bastard!”

Her calls were futile; he was gone. Ravyn stood in the same position for several minutes, her face still red with anger and contorted in rage, as she scanned the forest for any trace. Ceyla placed a hand on her shoulder. She said softly, “He’s gone, and we need to get moving.”

Mastershake
10-04-2010, 03:27 PM
Ravyn kept staring into the darkness for a few more moments; no one dared disturb her in such a state. She turned around when the deadly silence was broken up by movement. As she scanned across the clearing, she caught sight of Hyrios and the remaining archers approaching. Lorian and his group along with the rest of the mage hunters arrived only moments thereafter. Ravyn scanned through the crowd, and then she turned her gaze to Hyrios. “Is this…”

Before she could finish her question, Hyrios interrupted her with a nod and somber stare. Ravyn simply nodded back. She looked to Lorian and before she could even ask, he bowed his head and gave a quick nod. Ravyn then turned to Discordia. The once mighty war machine was heavily scarred with claw marks across both shoulder pads and two gouges in her chest plate. Her legs had several large dents from the mechanical fists of the enemy thralls and her carapace was now covered in oil spatters. Ravyn wasn’t a ‘jack expert, but even she could tell Discordia’s armor had been heavily compromised. With all of her damage, though, Discordia still appeared to be fully operational.

Ravyn looked back to the men, they all appeared exhausted; not just physically, but mentally as well. She turned her gaze down and thought for a moment. The stench of rotten flash hung thick in the air as Ravyn gave thought to their situation. As she looked up, all gathered noted that her normally inexhaustible energy appeared to be gone and she looked as tired as everyone else. She turned to Lorian, “Find us a place to camp for the night, we could all use some rest.”

Lorian nodded, gathered several of his subordinates then started discussing possible locations behind the rest of the group. Hyrios raised an arm to get Ravyn’s attention, but immediately dropped it and winced in pain before raising the other, “Even with the extra arrows the mage hunters brought, we’re running low on ammo. We’ll need to prioritize targets.”

Ravyn sighed before nodding and giving a half-hearted smile. Lorian waved at Ravyn and pointed off towards the road. She waved back and all gathered began moving except for Ravyn, Aiyana and Discordia. Ravyn walked over to Discordia and placed a hand on the heavy jack’s chest. She then let her head fall into the ‘jack’s chest plate and exhaled deeply. The ‘jack slowly powered down with Ravyn resting her head on it for a few moments. Aiyana remained silent the whole time. Ravyn then stood up strait and spoke, staring at the ground and with no energy in her voice, “Let’s get moving.”

Aiyana said nothing and followed her.

Later that night, Aiyana came across Ravyn sitting at a campfire. Ravyn was alone, but this wasn’t a rare occurrence. Aiyana had noticed that the other elves rarely socialized with her and seemed genuinely uncomfortable in her company. She was the Eternal Light, the heart and soul of the Retribution, a hefty burden for any to bear. Ravyn seemed completely lost in thought as she stared into the crackling fire. Aiyana took a seat next to her, “How bad is it?”

Ravyn didn’t turn her gaze from the fire, but gave an almost boisterous laugh. The comment actually seemed to lighten Ravyn’s mood, “Not as bad as it looks. We weren’t exactly in any condition to take on a thousand man garrison before; a few less isn’t really a deal breaker. The men stood their ground against horrors from the void and did better than I could’ve asked and I’m honored to be leading them.”

Aiyana’s mood lightened in turn, “So does this mean we have a plan or is more ‘negotiating’ in order.”

Ravyn looked over and smiled, “Not a bad plan, but I doubt we could just walk into a fort. I’m thinking we’ll need to create a distraction to allow a group of mage hunters to get inside. Just waiting for nightfall wouldn’t be enough; there’s just too many. We may have to start drawing straws to see what poor bastards are going to be with the diversionary force. And don’t look too smug, you and I are automatically there.”

Aiyana gave a quick chuckle, “Well it’s better than nothing, but not by a wide margin. We should be there tomorrow night if we can keep our pace up, so we will probably have some time to make a more detailed plan before word of our handy work reaches the fort. If we really do find out where they’re keeping Nyssor, any sacrifice will be worth it.”

Ravyn’s smile faded, “I know, but it doesn’t make it easier.” An expression of vengeance crossed her face, “We should’ve had that vile bastard. I’ll track him to end of Immoren if I have to.”

Aiyana’s expression mirrored Ravyn’s as she whispered, “I’ll help.”

The two sat by the fire for a while exchanging idle banter until Aiyana excused herself and went off to her tent. Ravyn sat around the fire by herself for a few minutes before walking off to find Hyrios. She expected him to be asleep, but he was leaning on a tree staring off into the distance. Ravyn walked up behind him, “What are you doing up?”

He jumped slightly as he turned around, “Oh, it’s you. I couldn’t sleep.”

Ravyn walked around to the other side of the tree before speaking, “What is your ammo situation like?”

Hyrios put his hand to his chin and furrowed his brow, “Not good, we’ve got less archers to split it between, but that still only leaves us with about a half dozen shots each. Not really enough for a thousand-man garrison.”

Ravyn stared off at the moon, “You said yesterday that you and your men aren’t used to this kind of fight. After what happened earlier, I need to know I can count on you.”

Hyrios gave a deep sigh before responding, “We’ll fight them with blades if we have to. If it will help get Nyssor back, we’ll fight them with our fists. I was worried yesterday, but after witnessing how they held up against those monsters, I wonder if I wasn’t just seeing my own fears. I’m not sure I’m worthy to lead such men.”

Ravyn whispered, “Neither am I.”

Hyrios glanced over, “I’m sorry; I didn’t catch that.”

Ravyn smiled at him, “I said get some sleep. I’ll make that an order if I have to.”

Hyrios smiled and gave a slight bow before leaving. Ravyn laughed to herself before walking off to her tent.

Mastershake
10-04-2010, 06:05 PM
Vindication


The mage hunters had looked over Discordia before the elves set out the next day. They weren’t mechanics, but they studied human ‘jacks enough to know what would interfere with operation. They had removed the armor on her left leg to keep the heavily damaged plate from messing up the knee joint. Combined with all of the damage, Discordia now looked like a walking scrap pile. Ravyn couldn’t help but smile. She wanted to be there to see Rahn’s reaction when she returned his ‘jack.

The next day’s travel was almost completely uneventful. It was a much welcomed change of pace from the previous days. Ravyn seemed to be in a much better mood as she chatted away with Aiyana during the day’s walk. It was late in the evening when Ravyn and Aiyana noticed a hooded figure walking down the road towards them.

Ravyn smiled and waved at Eiryss and she waved back. As Eiryss approached, Aiyana turned to Ravyn, “This should be interesting.”

Ravyn laughed, “When is it not?”

As they approached Eiryss, she stopped, waited for them to get to her, and then started walking with them. Eiryss looked over Discordia and glanced back to Ravyn, “Looks like you ran into trouble.”

Ravyn looked back at Discordia, “She won’t win a beauty contest, but she can still fight. What’s the word from the fort?”

“It’s just up ahead; you should be there shortly after nightfall. I managed to get hired by one of the humans, but I can’t get access to the building where Nyssor’s location is held. We’ll need a diversion of some kind.”

Ravyn looked to Aiyana, “Yeah, we figured as much. Will you need help getting in?”

Eiryss shook her head, “No, I just need them to lighten the guard around the building a little.”

Aiyana glanced at Eiryss and back to Ravyn, “At least there’s some good news to be had. Now all we have to do is pick a fight with an entire army and we’re good.”

Ravyn chuckled before turning to Eiryss, “You should return to the fort, we’ll find a way to give you the time you need. Be ready at first light tomorrow.”

Eiryss nodded, “Good luck to you all. I won’t let you down. I will find Nyssor’s location and get it back to Ios.”

Eiryss broke into a run back towards the fort, leaving Aiyana and Ravyn. Aiyana looked at Ravyn, “Are we sure she can do it? Once we’ve committed to this diversion, we’re going to lose people and we won’t be able to do it again.”

Ravyn didn’t turn her gaze from Eiryss, now disappearing into the distance, “She can do it. If anyone can do it, she can. Scyrah help us. We’re so close, we can’t fail now.”

Aiyana clearly had reservations, but kept them to herself. Ravyn and Aiyana walked the rest of the distance in silence. Shortly after nightfall, Lorian came out of the tree line and joined them on the road. He gave a slight bow to Ravyn, “its right up the road. We’ve located a good place to set up camp for the night and found a position we can observe the fort from. If you’ll follow me.”

Ravyn nodded and followed Lorian through the forest with Aiyana and Discordia in tow. Ravyn took Discordia to the camp site and powered the ‘jack down before joining Lorian and the rest of the leadership at the observation point. Lorian, Hyrios, Aiyana and Ceyla were all gathered in a copse of trees. Ravyn looked out to the fort and immediately noticed that the entire area around the perimeter within several hundred feet of the fort had been completely cleared of vegetation. It would impossible to approach the fort across the snow covered field without being immediately spotted.

Lorian spoke first, “From what we can tell, the intel was about right. It looks like they’ve stationed s few heavy ‘jacks on the ramparts to act as ad-hoc artillery, but we haven’t seen a trace of anything larger. Sadly, the numbers look about right as well. As you can see…” He motioned to the field, “Approaching undetected is pretty much out of the question. That’s all we got.”

Ravyn walked into the middle of the group, “Eiryss has infiltrated the facility and she says she can get to the information about where they’re keeping Nyssor if we can distract them. Obviously this isn’t going to be easy because we have to find a way to get them to leave their fortress and come out after us.”

Hyrios spoke up, “We have to look threatening enough that they can’t just let us stay out here and at the same time get in a position where they can’t just bombard us from the fort.”

Ravyn nodded, “He’s got it. We’re going to need Hyrios’ men. They’ve got a range that rivals the weapons of those heavy jacks. With some assistance from me, we should be able to outrange their weapons and force them out.”

Aiyana interrupted, “We’ll need to get their attention in a way that won’t cause them to simply shrink back into their fortress.”

Ravyn turned to Aiyana, “Sounds like you have an idea.”

Aiyana smiled, “More ‘negotiations’ may be in order. Humans tend to make rash decisions when you insult them.”

Ravyn smiled and turned to Ceyla, “You should probably be there too.”

Ceyla winked, “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Lorian interrupted, “How long are we looking at? Not to sound like a coward, but we don’t need to occupy them all day, just long enough for Eiryss to get in and out.”

Ravyn looked over, “You’re right. We need to stay long enough for it not to look like we’re just there to distract them, so we can’t flee right away. We’ll have to at least make it look like we’re trying to hold, but bit off more than we could chew.”

Lorian’s eyes grew wide, “Making it look like we bit off more than we could chew should be easy enough.”

Ravyn smiled at him, “Our escape is through the forest, the terrain should slow them down a good bit. From there we rally at the campsite and move back to Ios.”

Lorian interrupted again, “How are we going to know if it worked?”

Ravyn shrugged, “It’s all up to Eiryss. We have to trust she can get the information back to Ios for the Retribution to act on. But to answer your question, we have no way to know.”

Lorian gave a sigh, “We’ll be ready. The mere possibility of recovering Nyssor is worth it.”

All of the elves gathered nodded in unison. Ravyn looked around the group, “Get some rest. One way or another, this all ends tomorrow.”

Everyone began to head back to camp except for Ravyn and Aiyana. Aiyana looked up at the moon and spoke, “All we have to do is insult them and kill some and this should work. It’s the easiest thing we’ve done yet.”

Ravyn was staring off at the fort and didn’t turn her gaze, “Simple and easy aren’t the same thing. It’s simple enough to tell someone that all they have to do is ‘hold the line’ the night before a battle, but a lot of things can happen in a fight. After what they’ve been through, I have as much faith in them as I do in Eiryss. We can’t fail.”

Aiyana looked at Ravyn’s expression and couldn’t help but feel inspired. Her confidence was absolutely contagious and even Aiyana started to believe in their infallibility. Aiyana smiled and pulled her hood over her head as she turned back towards the camp and started walking back. Ravyn looked back at Aiyana briefly, but said nothing. She looked up at the moon. It was full and bright, casting a soft blue glow across the landscape. Ravyn smiled, and then followed Aiyana back.

Mastershake
10-05-2010, 05:13 PM
A dim twilight hung over the scene as the sun stood poised to rise over the far off mountains. Ravyn walked to the edge of the forest where Lorian waited. He turned to look at her, nodded then turned back, “Our sentries caught a runner in the night. He had a message that warned a Khador unit had been attacked and they should be on guard.”

Ravyn laughed, “We’ll make sure they get the message.”

Lorian nodded and motioned to the tree line, “We’re in position. Go ahead whenever you’re ready.”

Ravyn patted his shoulder and walked back into the forest a little ways. Aiyana, Discordia, Hyrios and his remaining men were all waiting. Ravyn looked at Hyrios, “This is it. I want you and your men to set up a position with Discordia a good distance back, but make sure you have range to the fortress walls.”

Hyrios motioned for his men and walked towards the field. Ravyn commanded Discordia to follow them. She then turned to Aiyana who simply smiled and gestured towards the fort as if to say “after you”. Ravyn nodded and they both began walking. They made their way to the road and began following it directly towards the massive armored blast doors of the fortress. As they walked they came upon Hyrios and his men, sticking arrows in the ground at their feet to speed up the loading process. Ravyn paused briefly and held her hand out causing mysterious runes to appear around their weapons. She looked over to Hyrios, “Do you have any Star Strike arrows left?”

He nodded, “Yes, but they’re a bit heavier than the high explosives. We’d have to get closer.”

Ravyn smiled, “No need for that, just fire them like you would the high explosives. Trust me.”

Hyrios shrugged and signaled for his men to ready the arrows. Their approach hadn’t gone unnoticed as evinced by the flurry of activity on the ramparts. As they approached, one figure came into vision. He was too far away to make out any real features except for his large fur hat, but the two cannon-armed heavy warjacks flanking him was a good indicator he was in charge. Aiyana and Ravyn were still a good distance out when the figure called to them, “Who are you? State your business in Khadoran territory or prepare to be fired upon.”

Ravyn stopped, but Aiyana continued forward several paces before speaking, “This is Ravyn, the Eternal Light, of Ios and we have come to negotiate.”

Ravyn mumbled, “You could leave the ‘Eternal Light’ part out.”

Aiyana glanced back and gave a wink. The figure appeared to rock his head back, “Negotiate? About what? And why are they here?” He said as he pointed to Hyrios and his men.

Aiyana replied smugly, “They are merely insurance; we have found humans distrustful in the past. We do not fancy negotiating by shouting; send a representative, so that we may speak on more civil terms.”

The figure seemed to consider the request for several moments, pacing back and forth, before responding, “Fine. A representative it is then.”

The figure disappeared behind the battlements. A few minutes later, the previous tranquility of the valley was shattered by heavy mechanical creak of the blast doors opening. The doors were almost painfully slow to open, but it gave the elves plenty of time to see what the humans were preparing to send out. Through the opening they could see a group of a dozen men clad in heavy armor with interlocked shields and large pikes. Someone appeared to be on the other side of the shield wall, but he was mostly concealed by it.

The mechanical screams of the door’s mechanisms were soon replaced by clanking of the armored formation marching forward. The formation marched up to within about twenty feet then stopped. None of the men made a sound as the blast doors slowly creaked closed behind them. The sound of massive locking bars slamming into position soon echoed through the valley. It was only after the door was securely shut that the man behind the wall started speaking, “So, we are here. What is there to negotiate about?”

The voice was not the same as the man on top of the wall. Aiyana smiled and said, “All of this for a two elf women? So be it.”

She turned towards Ravyn and started walking, winking at Ravyn as she went by. Ravyn stared at the shield wall for a moment trying to figure out where the man was behind the bristling array of spears and shields. She then spoke, “We are here to negotiate the surrender of this garrison to the nation of Ios.”

The seasoned warriors didn’t respond, but simply held their position. The man behind the wall took several moments, presumably considering the situation, before issuing a reply, “We will not lay down our arms. If you want them, come and claim them, but we have nothing more to talk about here.”

Ravyn held up her arm and motioned towards the formation and Hyrios’ men let fly a volley of arrows. The arrows seemed to be flying an unnaturally long distance as they crashed into the formation. Each arrow burst into liquid flames that spread across the formation burning the men alive. As the Khadorans struggled to put themselves out, the figure behind the wall briefly became visible. He was exposed just long enough for Ceyla to whip her chain past the burning men and into their leader’s head, splitting it into several large chunks. Ravyn could already see the warjacks on the battlements preparing to fire and she summoned a dense mist to hide them.

The sound of cannon fire rung throughout the valley as the elves broke into a dead sprint for the archers firing position. As Ravyn ran towards the position, she mentally linked with Discordia to extend her force field around the archer’s position to protect them from the deadly shrapnel of the cannon rounds. Shots impacted all around Ravyn, but the nimble elf proved a difficult target for inaccurate cannon fire. As Ravyn arrived inside of Discordia’s field she skidded to a stop and looked around. Both Aiyana and Ceyla had completely vanished. Ravyn smiled and thought to herself “they’ve got to teach me that one”.

The cannon rounds impacted all around their position, but the explosions and shrapnel weren’t powerful enough to pierce the energy field. Ravyn signaled to Hyrios to load the armor piercing rounds. They did so without hesitation and took aim at one of the jacks shelling their position. They let slip a volley that flew through the air with supernatural ease. The Khadorans around the ‘jack all dove out of the way as the rounds impacted in loud explosions and sent hot shrapnel flying through the air. The ‘jack had suffered only minor damage, but the humans seemed to get the message. The ramparts soon emptied of most enemy soldiers.

As Ravyn stared across the field trying to make out what the humans were doing, she caught sight of two soldiers carrying some kind of light artillery across the wall. She took aim with Hellbore, blessing it with the same rune the archer’s weapons had, and seemed to be channeling arcane energies through the weapon. Hellbore unleashed a shot of energy at the soldiers, but this time instead of just impacting, it detonated, killing both crewmen in a single blast of light. She continued scanning the fort, but soon noticed a small group of enemy sharpshooters outside the fort off to the right. They were hugging the tree line trying to sneak up on her position, but their advance was soon stopped by a volley of precision crossbow fire from Lorian’s men leaving nothing but twitching bodies.

As Ravyn stood vigil watching for any more activity from the fort, Aiyana walked up from behind her, “So the first part is a resounding success. They seem to be genuinely upset. Now the only question is ‘are they going to come after us?’”

Ravyn jumped a little at Aiyana’s appearance before regaining her composure, “Well they certainly seemed to have caught on that a ranged fight isn’t going to work. If they don’t take the bait, I’m not sure what else we could do.”

Mastershake
10-05-2010, 05:15 PM
The same mechanical creaking sound from earlier echoed through the area, but the massive gates in front of them weren’t moving. Aiyana turned to Ravyn, “It would have been nice if they tried to come out the front door, but I guess that was too much to hope for.”

Ravyn didn’t respond, instead she held her vigil looking for signs of movement. The sounds of war machines moving out and a thousand men walking to war could be heard throughout the entire clearing and the smoke plumes from dozens of jacks were visible even from the elves current position. There was nothing more to do or say. The only thing left for the elves was to await the onslaught. The watched as the Khadoran forces marshaled off to the right side of the fortress, well outside of their weapons’ ranges. The Khadorans formed up into battle lines with all manner of infantry and ‘jacks. Cavalry were thankfully absent, but it would make little difference in the long run.

The enemy formation slowly lurched forward, like a might bear waking from hibernation to swat at some annoying insect. Ravyn looked over to Hyrios, “What’s your ammo look like?”

He shook his head, “Nothing but high explosives left, and even then…”

She nodded in acknowledgement, “Use it sparingly, we don’t want to tip our hand too early.”

She then turned to Lorian and cast the rune on the mage hunters’ weapons, “This will give you some extra range; use it to single out enemy officers. That should give a bit more time.”

Lorian waved a hand at Ravyn to signify understanding. She looked back at the enemy formation. In only a few moments they would be within range. At their center was a formation of men in gas masks with carbines and shields. On either flank were warjacks with heavy cannons supported by infantry with rifles and blunderbusses. The second wave had large numbers of heavy infantry in massive steam-powered armor, their lumbering forms easily visible over the regular infantry. More warjacks of various designs dotted the second wave. Presumably there were more still, but none could be seen beyond the current sea of soldiers.

The mage hunters started shooting first, but the crossbow bolts couldn’t pierce the shields of the first wave. Aiyana gestured at the enemy causing runes to appear around them, and then she turned to Lorian, “Try it now commander.”

He nodded and let slip another volley. This time, the crossbow bolts more easily found their mark, piercing shields, helmets and chest plates far more easily and inflicting heavy losses. The warjacks began firing in response. Lorian’s men didn’t have the protection of Discordia’s shield and even with a good dispersal they started taking losses. The mage hunters weren’t helpless; they had thoroughly studied warjack technology and as they opened fire, their crossbow bolts found weak points in the enemy ‘jacks armor eventually causing the main cannon to malfunction and the ammunition to detonate shearing the cannon arm off the beast. Hyrios’ and the other archers fired a few shots at the jack, but the high explosive rounds barely dented the heavy armor plating. He signaled his men to not waste the ammo on enemy ‘jacks.

With all of the fighting going on, the elves failed to notice a small group of enemy riflemen who were advancing in front of the fortress wall. They fired off a volley. One of the first few shots struck the archer next to Hyrios in the head, killing him instantly. More shots struck another archer, hitting him twice in the chest. He lay on the ground bleeding out and coughing up blood. Hyrios snapped his gaze over to the enemy riflemen and in a fit of rage he and the last remaining archer fired a pair of high explosive rounds in their midst, killing or wounding most. The remaining riflemen fumbled with their ammunition trying to load and fire another volley, but they were overmatched in the skilled archers and another pair of high explosive rounds streaked through the air shredding the last few riflemen to pieces. The first wave faltered and eventually broke under the stress of constant precision fire from the mage hunters with Aiyana’s assistance.

As the second wave stomped forward, Ravyn sensed an end to fight was near. A shield wall of heavy infantry backed by no less than four warjacks with massive shields in place of arms stomped forward. Even with Aiyana’s assistance, their arrows weren’t causing meaningful damage to the enemy forces as they slogged inexorably towards Ravyn’s position. Ravyn looked over the wave of juggernaughts briefly before motioning to Hyrios and Lorian that they should prepare to leave.

As the fighting intensified, the commander of the Khador garrison walked at the rear of the formation with his two staff officers following closely behind. He wore little armor, just a fur lined cloak over his uniform to keep out the elements and a large fur hat. He had a thick white beard and looked to be very old. His staff officers were both younger men, one carrying a case full of maps along with a large banner and the other had a bugle at his side. The commander saw runners coming from the first wave and said, “Ah, news from the front lines. Hand me the map.”

His request went unanswered, but before he could turn around to repeat it he felt a hand grab the hair on the back of his head and a knee go into the small of his back forcing him to the ground. The next sensation he felt was cold steel against his neck. It happened so fast he couldn’t scream. He caught sight of the garrison banner on the ground behind him lying in blood drenched snow. The blade was so close to his throat he dared not cry out. Ceyla whispered quietly into his ear, “What made you think the contents of that box were yours to take?”

He tried to choke out a response, “I…I…”

Ceyla interrupted him, “Let me guess, you didn’t know? Even if you had, you humans take everything, even that which was never yours to take. Now you, in your ignorance, you have invited your own destruction. Perhaps your children will live long enough to regret the folly of your arrogance, but fear not, for your life ends now and no amount of begging or bartering will forestall this judgment.”

As she spoke the final words, she pressed forward on his head and pulled back with her blade neatly severing the man’s head. The runners from the first wave arrived to a scene of abject slaughter. The bodies of the garrison commander and his two staff officers littered the ground; all three had suffered horrific wounds. There was no sign of their attacker who had seemingly disappeared in the open field surrounding the fortress. The runner cried out for assistance and the Khadoran advance came to a grinding halt.

As Ravyn prepared to order a withdrawal, she suddenly stopped. The Khadoran’s had halted their advance. There appeared to be something going on behind them. The wave currently facing the elves pulled back into an impenetrable wall as Khadoran officers scrambled back and forth, seemingly upset about something. The elves had probably given Eiryss enough time, but Ravyn’s curiosity got the better of her. As the enemy scrambled to reorganize and press the attack Ravyn saw something off to the right in the tree line. A mass of undead warriors and shifting shadows filtered out of the woods and formed up to attack the Khadoran lines.

The Khadorans were now scrambling to create a perimeter to protect from both the elves and their new opponents. They seemed to believe this was all part of some clever ambush and left only a small screening force to keep Ravyn’s task force off of them. Lorain walked up behind Ravyn, “Perfect, this will keep them occupied and we can just slip out. We couldn’t have asked for any better.”

Ravyn glared at the ever growing mass of void monsters and said, “That thing is here. I’m not leaving!”

Aiyana looked over to Lorian, “I’m staying as well.”

Lorian shook his head in frustration, “You mean we’re going into that mess?”

Ravyn, not turning her gaze, responded, “I said ‘I’m’ not leaving. I want you to take everyone and Discordia back to the rally point. If your position is threatened I want you to leave. Don’t worry about me.”

Lorian buried his forehead into his palm, “You’ve got to be joking.”

Hyrios placed his hand on the last archer’s shoulder and said, “I hold your oath fulfilled. You have done more than enough. Now return to Ios with honor.”

The archer put one hand on Hyrios’ shoulder and extended the other with his last few arrows in it, “Good hunting.”

Before Lorian could reason with Ravyn, she and Aiyana had already broken into a run towards the fight. Hyrios followed shortly afterwards. Lorian threw up both arms, “I must be out of my mind.”

He motioned to another mage hunter, “You’re in charge, get Discordia and everyone else back to the rally point. I need two volunteers.”

He didn’t wait for a response and started running after Ravyn. Two mage hunters quickly followed behind him and the rest started pulling back. Lorian grumbled to himself as he ran towards the nightmarish melee ensuing in front of him, “By Scyrah, she better be worth it.”

Mastershake
10-05-2010, 07:23 PM
Ravyn wasted no time. The area around her soon erupted in a vortex of destruction as her blazed a bright teal, her face contorted with rage. The Khadorans in front of her set their weapons to receive her charge, but were surprised when she jumped clear over them, barreling into a group of the void monsters and Khadoran soldiers directly behind them swinging an firing indiscriminately through the mob. The Khadorans soon began giving her a wide birth noting that she was veering into the midst of the void creatures and not wanting to incur her wrath.

Aiyana disappeared shortly after she started running towards the fight. Lorian took his men wide to the right to try and wrap around behind the void creatures killing the few stragglers they ran into with crossbow fire. He called out to the men with him as they made their way around the back of the fight, “Look for Ravyn, she’ll be in the middle of the flying body parts.”

Hyrios couldn’t move as fast as the mage hunters, so he had little choice, but to go straight through the fight. When he caught sight of Ravyn fighting her way through the monsters, he immediately reached for an arrow. As she disappeared into the fray, he drew and fired the high explosive round. It sent bodies flying and soldiers reeling like a stone dropped into a pond and Hyrios ran into the wake of the shot. Khadorans screaming in pain and undead missing limbs clawed at him as he bolted through the impact area. He soon found a pocket devoid of enemies in Ravyn’s wake. She was easy enough to follow as the spray of limbs and equipment was visible for a good distance.

Ravyn was making surprisingly good speed considering the number of enemies she was hacking down as she went. She fought a person possessed, devoid of care for personal safety and swinging and firing with such speed and precision that it seemed impossible for creature living or otherwise. With a final wide sweep she cleared enough enemies to see her quarry. The undead elf, the monster that tried to kill her god, was only a short distance away. She was almost on top of him before he finally noticed her arrival. She swung her blade across his chest, slicing through armor, but not deep enough to get to flesh. She fluidly moved into a swing using the blades on the back of Hellbore, but the creature dodged out of the way.

He swung his blade at her, the sword of the god of winter himself. She was narrowly able to move out of the way, but the blade came close enough to her face for her to feel the absolute cold. She was forced to back up briefly from the swing. He glared at her, “I cannot sacrifice the fate of our people for your ignorance. Help me or die!”

As he spoke, Aiyana’s rune appeared around him. Ravyn looked over to see her glaring at the creature. With renewed vigor, she again charged in. He waved his hand and a mob of the void creatures appeared in between them. Ravyn shouted as she hacked into them, “They will not save you this time. Fight me coward!”

It took only moments for Ravyn to hack the creatures down. She looked around intently and saw him heading for the fortress. She immediately broke into a sprint in pursuit. Shortly thereafter she realized she was not alone. Ceyla had joined in on the chase and Aiyana had disappeared again.

In front of the creature, a unit of Khadoran heavy infantry in a shield wall blocked his advance to the fortress. He gave a shout of anger and plunged his blade into the first one. Upon contact with the weapon, the man turned to ice and shattered and the creature ran through the hole in the shield wall left by his body. The men on his left and right tried to swing as he moved past, but their blades impacted the ground behind him. Ravyn ran past them leaping over the blades. Ceyla leapt on top of one of the men and used him as a spring board. As she flew through the air, she sent her blade soaring towards the vile creature. It sliced a scar across the back of his armor. It was merely a glancing blow, but it was enough to throw off his balance and cause him to stumble briefly.

Ravyn was almost upon him as Hyrios, almost out of breath, came across the scene. He slid onto a knee and readied an arrow. This was his chance. He tried to lead the creature as he drew the bow back and mentally ran through the trajectory for hitting the distance mark. As he let fly he said softly, “Scyrah guide me.”

The monster was nearly at the fortress wall when a high explosive arrow landed nearby. His armor stopped most of the shrapnel, but didn’t keep the force of the blast from knocking him off of his feet. Ravyn seized the opportunity to strike as he was getting back to his feet. He twisted his body to try and get out of the way of the lunge, but it caught his shoulder. Immediately after making contact, Ravyn fired a bolt from Hellbore ripping into his shoulder. He gave a mighty cry of pain before stumbling back.

He took several swings at Ravyn with his blade, but his wounds had broken his concentration and his attacks were clumsy. Ravyn easily moved out of the way and prepared for a killing blow. As she reared Hellbore back, a huge explosion rocked the area and sent Ravyn flying back.

Hyrios was loading another arrow to fire when he saw an explosion ring out. He looked over to see a heavy ‘jack approaching Ravyn’s position. He only had one arrow remaining, not enough to bring it down. He looked over for the vile creature, but couldn’t see anything through the dust. He loaded his last arrow and looked around. Two of the void monsters with spears and shields were approaching him. He drew and fired hitting one squarely. The other turned his shield to the blast, catching most of the shrapnel harmlessly. Hyrios threw his bow to the ground and drew his blade. As he prepared to charge, he said, “One of us will not leave this field.”

As Ravyn looked out, all she could see was clear sky overhead. All she could hear was a faint ringing. She felt a sharp stinging sensation in her right eye and moved her hand over it. When she pulled it away she saw her own blood. She tried to raise herself to her feat and felt a burning pain in her side. The culprit was a piece of hot metal that had pierced her armor in her side. She looked around and found Hellbore on the ground nearby. She used it to wedge the shard out of her chest, screaming in pain. She then used the weapon to brace herself as she stood up, gritting her teeth to try and work through the pain of her injuries. As she stood up, she looked around for the creature. He was gone again. She dropped to her knees and cried out, “Fight me! You hear me bastard, fight me!”

As she cried out, she could feel the tread of a heavy ‘jack behind her. It was a Khadoran model and its’ cannon was still smoking. All of her rage for the vile creature was immediately redirected towards the ‘jack. She screamed in anger as she rose to her feat and ran towards it. The ‘jack tried to swat the elf away, but its reflexes were far too slow as she leapt on top of it and slammed Hellbore deep into its’ carapace. She then focused all of her arcane might into the weapon and fired a deafening blast. The explosion wracked the machine sending shards flying out the back and hollowing out its insides in a burst of raw power. As the machine fell backwards, Ravyn remained on top and rode it to the ground.

She was breathing heavily and the spurt of activity only made the pain from the wound in her side worse. Her quarry was gone and along with the supernatural energy that had accompanied the pursuit. She leapt off of the ‘jack to the ground, but struggled to remain standing as the injury in her side sent sharp pain throughout her entire body. The blood flowing into her right eye was stinging so badly she couldn’t keep it open. She started staggering back towards the forest. After only a few paces, one of the void monsters appeared in front of her. She readied her weapon to fight.

As the creature started moving forwards it suddenly fell to the ground. Hyrios stood behind it, blade in hand. His left arm was completely limp at his side and he had several fresh wounds. He motioned for Ravyn and she nodded and went with him. They tried to hobble their way away from the fight. It wasn’t long before a few enemies peeled away from the rest of the fight to try and pursue them. Those foolish enough soon found their chests riddled with crossbow bolts as Lorian and his men provided cover for Ravyn’s escape from the tree line.

As Ravyn approached Lorian he motioned to the other mage hunters to help her and Hyrios. Lorian kept his weapon trained on the battle, but the combat was dying down. He took Ravyn and Hyrios into the forest and started leading them around back to the rally point. He stayed within sight of the battle to see what was happening. The humans ultimately emerged victorious, but the field was three and four deep with bodies at places. The survivors weren’t eager to try and follow the elves and began retreating back into the fortress.

Mastershake
10-05-2010, 07:25 PM
It was a slow drudge back to the rally point, but they eventually made it. When they arrived the rest of the mage hunters were still there. Lorian took charge of the situation, “The humans are pulling back into the fort. We should have some time to treat our wounded before moving out.”

The mage hunter carrying Ravyn slowly lowered her to ground next to a tree. Hyrios tried to wave off assistance, but the last of his archers wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. In short order Hyrios had a splint for his arm made from on of their signature compound longbows. Lorian walked up to Ravyn and started treating her. Ravyn waved her hand at him, “I’ll be fine, help out someone who needs it.”

Lorian laughed, “I can see that, but I’m afraid I’ll have to insist on this one.”

Aiyana appeared behind him and interrupted, “Don’t worry commander, I’ll handle this. See to your wounded.”

Lorian jumped and gasped deeply, “Scyrah! Stop doing that!”

Hyrios couldn’t help but laugh and Lorian shot him a rude gesture before nodding to Aiyana and walking off to see to his men. Aiyana knelt over Ravyn, “That creature appeared quite upset when he left the fortress. I think Eiryss beat him to it.”

Ravyn could only crack a half-hearted smile as she said in a soft tone, “I’d rather have his head, but I’ll take beating him to Nyssor.”

Aiyana shook her head as she treated Ravyn. Ravyn looked at her with a puzzled expression, “What?”

Aiyana smiled, but didn’t turn her attention from her work as she replied, “I guess the Nine Voices knew what they were doing when they appointed you.”

Ravyn rested her head on the tree and asked, “Why do you say that?”

Aiyana laughed, “Everyone here saw you go sailing into a nightmarish fight surrounded by enemies and come out the other side. Just look around.” She motioned to the elves gathered, “They would follow you into the void and back if you just asked. Eternal Light indeed.”

Ravyn just shook her head. She struggled to remain awake, but it was no use. The fight had exhausted her and the weight of her eyelids soon became unbearable.