zaterdag 22 augustus 2009

From the frying pan...

Their blades met with a clang. They both leaned in, pushing against their blades with all their might. As their faces closed, Jora growled, and said: "He who faces a Norn in battle, is already defeated!" Dani smiled, and replied: "You may be bigger, but I'm keener." She winked, and shoved Jora's left foot out from under her, dropping her to the ground.

Dani lept back through the air, and landing in a crouch, looked up to see Jora already scrambling to her feet. She raised her sword high, and charged the giant woman again. Jora deftly caught her blow with her shield, directing Dani by her momentum, away from her body and to her left. She followed through with her sword, slicing the air close along her opponent's back, as Dani spun and parried with her blade. Their blades met with a clang, as they spun to reposition themselves for the next blow.

"Sis!", Rajae interrupted them as she came running up. Dani crossed her blade across her shield, signalling a break. The women turned to Rajae as she walked up, the rest of the troupe already approaching from their camp.

"What did you find out?", Dani asked her sister. "There's a number of enemy groups patrolling the, here, and here...", she pointed out as she drew a map into the sand. "There's also some sort of magical locking mechanism that the Mursaat use for a number of things... I haven't been able to figure out precisely what they unlock, but there's a couple... here... and here..."

"Allright, we'll attack them at first light.", Dani decided. "I want to have a look at these locks, they must be related to the gate mechanism somehow. Now, remember to stay close! We'll take the lead. Raj, take your team and stay behind us. Move out!"

donderdag 20 augustus 2009

The Gaze of the Gods

They were making good time, jogging along the shady side of the desert ravine, their feet kicking up small clouds of dust as they hit the sands. Their Ascension had been completed, and they were now on their way to meet the Prophet.

"It just keeps getting more and more mysterious," Tahl complained loudly, near the end of the column, " is this is going to end?!" "I mean, just think: We've escaped your homeland into the mountains, fighting the Dwarves for passage... Good dwarves, bad dwarves, all very confusing... Then, when we finally get out of the cold, cold mountains, we hit an oppressively hot jungle filled to the brim with Undead! Then, the very people we'd been fighting with, become the people we're fighting against! And to make matters worse, the people we then find ourselves fighting with, are pretty much exterminated, and we have to follow the command of a man whose race, origin and motivation we DON'T EVEN KNOW, into this scorching stretch of desert... And now, to top it all of, we're on our way to meet a dragon! A DRAGON!"

"YOU COMPLAIN TOO MUCH!" The statement rang clearly through the canyon, seemingly coming from the ridge high above them. Dani halted, and looking up, beamed to see the huge form of Jora, standing near the edge at the top of the cliff. The smaller form of Jin appeared next to Jora, waving to the warband below.

Dani shouted up towards them: "My friends! What brings you to this desert? It's great to see you!" Jora cracked a smile, a rare event in and of itself, and replied: "We heard of your journey as we passed by Yak's Bend during our Hunt, and we figured you might be able to use some help." Koss replied: "That's excellent, ladies! Let me see if I can find a way to reach you from here!" "No need, just stay put, Jin already found a way down, we'll be right there!" And with that, they disappeared from view...

Rajae, who'd made her way over to Dani, touched her shoulder and asked: "Who are they? More friends of yours, from what I understand... But she's huge!" "Yeah..," Dani giggled, "... she's huge! She and Jin went off to hunt mountains trolls a while ago, one of the settlements we came across a couple months back was having problems... I'd never thought I'd run into them here!"

"Well, maybe your reputation is starting to proceed you," Rajae laughed... "Well, whatever the case," Dani replied, "'s going to be a great help having them around... I've got a feeling we're not out of this yet..."

dinsdag 18 augustus 2009


She stood, her gaze vacant, as she stared out over the mesa. Thoughts of doubt and indecision floated through her mind. She jerked, as Koss gently placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Raj...", he rumbled, "... you ok?"

She sighed, finding herself somehow unwilling to focus on the Now... "I'm worried...", she said softly... A moment passed as she took a slow breath, Koss waiting patiently for her to continue... "This Trial... it's so... mysterious, intangible, it gives me the creeps... I mean, we know it involves combat of some sort, right? 'Cause that's what this was all about, gaining the power to take on the White Mantle... But who are we fighting? And why?"

She looked up expectantly at Koss, hoping he would have the answers. "I don't know, hun...", he said, making her shoulders slump slightly... "...but I reckon the thing I do best is fightin'. So, I fight, it's what I do... Yesterday, we fought at Sanctum Cay, today, it's here. That's enough for me."

"It's really that... simple to you?", Rajae could barely believe it... He nodded thoughfully... "Besides, I got nowhere better to be... And I can't very well leave you two girls to face this all by yourselves, now can I?" He smiled, taking the sting out of his words... "Look, only thing I know is that your sister knows what she's doing, and she hasn't led us astray yet... "

Rajae smiled, feeling strengthened by Koss's words... "You're right," she replied, "...she's always been like that. Even when we were little, she always looked out for me...We'll be allright..." She smiled at him, more confidently this time...

"Now then, come on," he said, squeezing her shoulder, "...they're wondering where you are, we've got a Challenge to get to..."

maandag 17 augustus 2009

Close, but no cigar!

Blades flashed left and right, as Dani desperately tried to block the incoming blows with her shield. They'd been fighting for a solid hour now, and still the White Mantle kept coming. It's a good thing my friends showed up when they did, she thought ruefully, Rajae and I could never have hoped to hold these kind of numbers off by ourselves...

Gwen threw another interrupt across the battlefield, closely followed by two of Rajae's arrows, taking out another two casters. The bastards were hiding behind lines of White Mantle Knights, so Koss and Dani had so far found it impossible to reach them, even though that might their preferred tactic at a time like this...

"How much longer?!", Tahl yelled desperately across the fray.

"Almost... there...", the Vizier groaned, deep in concentration...

Dani dispatched another of her opponents, slashing him across the torso with her sword. Shield!, she thought automatically remembering her trainer's long lost admonition. Stupid thing to carry a shield if you're not going to use it, a mistake that Knight wouldn't live to learn from now...

Behind her, the sudden sound of a large cascade of water erupted over the battlefield. "GO! Onto the ship!", the Vizier commanded. Dani and Koss held the line a moment longer, mostly blocking the blows now, as their avenue of escape lay open behind them.

Dunkoro and Tahl were already helping the girls unto the boat, as Koss nodded for her to get aboard as well, followed by a mighty swing of his hammer, which sent the Mantle in from of him scattering to stay clear.

"HAHA! Not even courageous when outnumbering the enemy!", he taunted them goodnaturedly. Howling at the insult, the Knights raised their swords and charged at him. Koss defectly tripped the first one, sending him sliding facefirst along the dock. A quick swing of his hammer caught the second one on his left shoulder, his momentum carrying him right across the prone form of the first Knight. He too bit the dust, providing sufficient room for Koss to make a leap for the ship, which had already started to move away from the dock.

He threw his hammer over the side in mid-flight, barely able to catch the side of the boat as he thudded into it. Pulling himself aboard, Dani smiled at him, shaking her head: "You just can't help yourself, can you?..."

zondag 16 augustus 2009

Death in the Night

They were silently running along the path, the Wolfpack bounding along quickly but quietly in the thick growth on either side. Rufus and Cerberus, or 'Cerby' as Dani lovingly referred to him, were taking well to their new role as pack leaders. The other wolves seemed to respect them and followed their orders, as they in turn obeyed Dani and Rajae's.

Suddenly, up ahead, Rajae slowed, motioning the column behind her to stay low. Beyond the next few trees they could just make out the tower, sparsely lit by a handful of torches. They halted and a gruff snort off to Dani's left told her the Pack was holding position as well.

Observing the torchlights for a few moments, they could see three groups of White Mantle, including 2 healers. Dani signalled for Koss and Gwen to follow her, and motioned for Rajae to hold position at the treeline. She slunk away into the trees to her left, followed by the pack.

Rajae waited the designated number of minutes, regulating her breathing for the fight ahead. Then, she nocked an arrow, and took careful aim at the tower guard standing on top of the tower. She held her shot... Several moments passed, as she took another, calm breath, holding her aim steady...

Then, Koss and Dani burst from the treeline to the left with a crash, yelling a combined battle cry, with a full pack of wolves growling along directly behind them. The White Mantle were monentarily confused, as all had seemed calm a moment before, and took just a moment too long to react. Rajae loosed her shot, which caught the guard in the windpipe, sending him tumbling silently to the ground. Koss smashed the first healer to the ground with a mighty blow of his hammer, as Dani quickly dispatched the other with her blade. The wolves tore into the remaining Mantle left and right, sending them scattering in fear. Those cowards were soon hunted down and torn to the ground, leaving the whole scene quiet once more...

They quickly looted the bodies and hid them out of sight. Rajae, who was already standing on top of the next ridge, motioned that the way was clear. They fell into line, as the wolves slunk away into the treeline. Quiet as a whisper the group continued their mission north, their passage once again masked by darkness...

I love the smell of bacon in the morning!

"Oink!" "Oink!"... "Oink!"... "OINK!"

"SO!", Koss erupts, "please explain to me WHY we have to bring that bastard creature along with us?! Could've made him into bacon back at the camp already, you know... No need to drag him around! I say we kill him now!" Raising his hammer, he turns around, ready to give Oink a good trashing.

"Koss! Buddy!" Dani sighed, "... I told you already, we need him in order to speak to a Historian that lives a little ways down the road here... Please don't smash him?"

"So how's that work out then?" Koss asks. "If it's bacon he wants, I'm sure he'll be just as happy with his share of the leftovers", Koss bursts into laughter at this, thinking himself hilarious.

Dani says: "Tell you what: If you still feel like smashing him AFTER we've delivered him to the Historian, then fine, be my guest!" "Seems like a fair deal," Koss agrees, glowering at Oink, who was about to make another sound but suddenly seems to think better of it... "Come on, Breakfast! Stay close to me, ya hear?!"

... Several hours and one pig-smashing later...

"The Gates of Lion's Arch!", the Judiciar exclaims. "Thank you again for your help with those undead, report to Guide inside for further orders and bedding for the night." Saluting, the sisters and their friends enter the jungle city.

After getting directions and doing some business down at the Merchant's Corner, they all regrouped back at the campfire as night was beginning to fall. Once again, the cool hours of the evening turned out to be a time for reunion, as Dunkoro approached them from one of the side streets of the square.

"A good evening to you all!" he exclaimed in greeting. Cheers and good-hearted salutes were exchanged between Dunkoro and the rest of the group, as everybody was asking questions regarding his recent where-abouts and the goings-on of their homeland.

Dunkoro delivered dire news concerning a breach in diplomatic relations between the provinces of Elona. He recounted the details of the situation, which once again had them staying up late into the night, talking around the fire. By the time they finally went to sleep, they had discussed their relative situations and it was decided that the threat of the Undead here in Kryta, as well as the re-settlement of the Ascalonian people, was the most immediate priority and would need to be dealt with first. Dunkoro agreed to stay on with the group in order to lend a hand, on the condition that they'd make it a priority to return to Elona as soon as the Undead situation here was under control.

zaterdag 15 augustus 2009

A Cloudy Night

"You wanna know what I think?" Koss said...

"... It's not like it matters..." Rajae mumbled and sighed...

"I think that Rurik fellow doesn't have all his birds perched. Seems to me like calling you father a fool is a stupid thing to do. Especially considering that all Dad was trying to do, was keep his men in good spirits..."

"Well," Tahl chimed in, "...being banished by your own father is pretty crazy too... I mean, you know, all he did was, like, say what he thought... Maybe craziness runs in the family..." She shrugged.

"Crazy or not, for now, the only honorable path is to follow him." Dani walked out of the darkness and approached the group sitting around the fire.

"Talking about crazy, look who I found bumming around the camp a-ways..." Behind her, a dark-haired Gwen materialized out of the gloom. "Gwenny!", Tahlkora yelled, and hurried to her feet, giving her a firm hug. "How've you been!?"

"Good, good", Gwen smiled shyly, "...although flying solo isn't as much fun as hanging out with you lot." Koss slapped her on the shoulder, causing her to rock on her feet: "Well, it's good to see you lass!", causing Gwen to blush slightly.

Dani decided to cover for her by saying: "Oh, and you remember Raj, right Gwen? We used to play together back in the day." Gwen smiled: "Of course I remember Raj! I'm glad to see you after all this time!"

More hugs were exchanged, as they sat down by the fire. Koss conjured a bottle of dark Elonian rum from his knapsack, took a long drink and passed it to Dani... The conversation continued into the early hours of morning, as they caught up on the events they'd missed during the months they had spent apart.

By the time everybody was up to date, the bottle was empty (as well as a second one) and the soft dawn light was beginning to touch the sky...