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Kerik (played by iltheyn)

((Hey guys. Its been a while. I was going to post an interest check on this but then I figured I might never write it if I do that. Feel free to jump in, but please be certain to read the whole opening post, long as it is. And please only post as fantasy characters. I'm going for a very dark/iron age vibe with this roleplay, so a contemporary/futuristic character wouldn't fit very well.))

They say that the hill where old Crottletor stands used to be the site of an ancient battle between two kingdoms long forgotten by mortal men. The hill's incline, where dirt paths and humble cottages now stand- where children are like to play and pick flowers- was once awash in the blood of soldiers from lands far away. They say that this battle was decisive in the toppling of a lost dynasty, the end of a corrupt era and the beginning of a new one. But without context, these words have become little more than local myth. For the expansive empires and kingdoms of old are merely dust in the wind. The land's borders are more akin to the shards of a shattered mirror now, and many do not respect them. In this age, dark and conflicting as it is, this village is the closest to a sanctuary as one may find.

Now the top of the hill is the seat of a humble temple; little more than an arrangement of stone pillars surrounding a small sacred grove of birch trees. A few monks tend to the grove, led by a singular druid; a spiritual arbiter of the village's affairs as well as the keeper of lore. There is not much else to find in the village, aside from locals and the occasional pilgrim sojourning before they travel to the next spiritual site.



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Cheering broke out in the village as mugs clinked together and bards played festive melodies. The chilling winter wind felt like a mere zephyr in Crottletor this night, only half an hour after sunset, as the locals celebrated the winter solstice. Their numbers were added to by neighbors visiting from yet smaller, nearby hamlets. There were many other places they might celebrate the end of the year, but many preferred to visit the village due to its sacred grove. Feuds were settled by the local druid, wrongdoings forgiven and offerings made to the gods in the hopes that the new year might bring fruitful harvests, new life and other such bounties. The Solstice was a night of reflection of the past as well as an eagerness for the future-- and in these woods, that potential was hailed quite loudly.

Though mostly caught up in the celebrations, Kerik's mind eventually wandered home. The brigand was unrecognized here, and thusly unfeared. It was a delight to partake in a holiday among normal people again, but it also reminded him of how he might've done it back home. Even with a helping of honey-roasted boar and ale in his belly, the thought made him feel melancholic. Perhaps that was why his feet grew a mind of their own, guiding him to the temple. Most quarrels were dealt with at this point, leaving the monks and druid to pray and tend to the grove.

Kerik's eyes drifted over the snow-capped trees within the temple walls, catching a glimpse of the night. The full moon hung over the forest, peering down at them through a pocket of clear skies in the otherwise cloudy atmosphere. Its timely illumination was almost mystical, and the brigand wondered if it was a sign or perhaps an omen. Well, if it did mean something, he thought, it better be a good thing. He was tired of hard times, fighting harsh battles and going hungry.

His eyes trailed down again to the grove. He took in the decorated space; it was quieter here than outside. A nice place to think, or commune with the spirits, he supposed. Kerik noticed then a woman kneeling before one of the birch trees, her head dipped forward slightly. Praying, perhaps. Or snoozing, the drunken man speculated with amusement. Almost as if on que, the woman rose to her feet and stepped back from the tree. Her orange hair lifted slightly in the breeze as she turned around and finally noticed him. He froze. She did too, her eyes wide.

Kerik was no coward (at least, most of the time.) He calmed his nerves and straightened his back, attempting his most charming smile and saying. "Oh, hey. Didn't see you there." Though he clearly did. The brigand regretted that statement as soon as he said it. "Don't mind me, I was just getting away from the noise for a bit, to, uhm--" Why did he walk in again? "--to reflect, and pray, and stuff." He pushed back his messy blonde hair with one hand and rested the other on his hip, hoping it would look suave.

The woman didn't respond, but continued to stare at him as though she were a deer noticing a hunter in the brush. "--SO, uh. Have any resolutions? Hopes for a good harvest and all that? O-or maybe a husband?" The brigand felt his stomach curl. It seemed as though he was only capable of saying the dumbest things for this scenario. "I mean, not that I'm trying to say-- well, I mean- uhm." He paused for a few seconds. "--How's it going tonight?" Kerik blurted.

Despite his desperate attempts to get the beautiful woman to speak, he noticed that she only very slightly started leaning backwards, away from him. Kerik sputtered, "--Wait, don't go--" He looked around, trying to come up with a distraction, some reason to dissuade the woman from leaving. Then he saw it-- the altar, in the center of the grove. Atop it rested dried flowers, burning candles and a single, golden ring. Before it was a ceremonial brazier, placed to burn offerings provided by pilgrims. For the moment it lay dormant, holding within a cold pile of charcoal and twigs. "--Here, I'll give you some space." The brigand offered, and did so, if only to approach the altar. He wondered about the ring, how valuable it might be. But stealing in front of the fair woman would undoubtedly result in some form of disaster, so it was off-limits. It didn't stop him from noting it, however. "Wow, look at this...!"

With some lingering sense of drunken bravado, Kerik reached over and picked up the ring, turning it between his fingers. "Do you know what this is? Looks pretty. Like something you'd see a noble wearing." On the inner ring was an engraving of some sort, weathered away by time and dull-looking. Letters of some sort, perhaps? He didn't recognize them at all, though he couldn't read very much, himself. "Looks like real gold. You don't see very much of this nowadays. Must be important." He shot a sly look in the direction of the woman, who was inching towards the entrance surreptitiously. She froze again when he looked back at her. Not noticing, the brigand kept talking. "Do you think this was some sort of offering another left? Maybe some sort of family heirloom? It looks old. Valuable." With a smirk, Kerik tossed the thing up in the air, catching it and slapping it on his other hand as if it were a coin.

He grinned up at the woman. She covered her mouth with a hand. Sensing that he may be able to stir amusement from her, he tossed the object around, pulling out all the tricks he'd learned on the street as a child. The brigand tossed it a few times, rolled it along one arm to another and then juggled it with a rock from the ground near the altar. "Ah? Ahh?" He uttered, peering wryly at his audience while she stifled a snicker.

Then, something strange happened. It seemed as if all the world, in an instant, grew darker. A single, narrow ray of moonlight pierced the gloom and illuminated the brazier starkly. Both of the sacrilegious visitors turned their eyes towards the sky to see the moon mostly obscured by the clouds. As Kerik did so he lost focus on his tricks, causing the rock he found as well as the ring to fall from his hands. The rock fell onto a bed of moss, making a harmless thumping noise. The ring, on the other hand, fell right into the brazier just as it started to smoke.

The brigand looked down at it, just in time to see the brazier come alight with a ghostly blue flame. He clapped his hands on the side of his head, alarmed. "--Ah!" He exclaimed. The woman gasped in similar fright and they watched as the flames overtook the ring completely. It was impossible to see just what the harsh heat was doing to the ancient accessory but Kerik could imagine that it wasn't good. Then he heard another gasp from a much deeper voice, followed by an angered demand from the village druid. "What have you done!?" Oh no. They saw everything.

The brigand turned to see not only the druid, but also the eyes of half the village upon him and the blue fire. He felt as though his heart had seized in his chest; now suddenly he was the deer. "I-I can explain! I mean- uhm--"

"Away!" The druid cried. "Away from the grove, everyone! Away, away, at once!" It seemed odd to Kerik that the old coot was angry at everyone, but he nonetheless started to scramble out of the grove. His confusion was remedied though, once he heard it. A loud, thunderous crack, emanating from the brazier. Was it the flame? The ring? It was hard to know, since in the seconds afterwards a rush of wind seized him and the others from their feet and threw them all down the hill. Under the cracking sound, more reminiscent of rolling thunder now, the brigand could just barely hear the sounds of the villagers screaming.

Kerik rolled for some time before slamming into a woven fence. It bent under his weight and momentum but didn't break. He grunted painfully and looked back at the source of the sound, witnessing the flames scattering all across the village. In the place the temple once was loomed some sort of beast, mostly silhouetted by the fire. He could make out one thing, however; two glowing yellow eyes, burning against the dark, staring at him.

"Oh gods..." He whispered. For certainly, he must have angered them greatly for such a horrifying thing to appear.

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Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

What a way to celebrate the winter solstice.
Some moments ago everyone was drinking and celebrating the date, most of the villagers happy and cheery. It didn't mean there wasn't one or two bold enough to try their hands on pickpocketing other tipsy individuals, the alcohol making them forget she was around to stop it. It seems that no matter if a woman bears a sword and armour, men still think little of them as a threat.

But stopping fights and preventing some unsuspected victims from robbery can't be compared to the current situation. People panicking with the village burning, the old Druid shouting orders to evacuate and -- Those yellow orbs, a predator eyes looking to the frail prey around it. Or more specifically, one figure laying on the ground some feet away from her. She remembers him being the one nearest to the altar before being blown away from her feet.

Regardless if he was or not the cause of this chaos, the fact is that the magical beast has its entire attention towards the young man. With no hesitation, Sali stands up and dashes towards him with her right hand already on the hilt of her sword. She doesn't throw herself in front of him. Her brown eyes peer over to assess him by his side before glaring at the beast and drawing her sword, taking a fighting stance.

If there is one thing Wulpet's heart hates with each beat, is magic. Sali will have to trust that her iron sword could do something against this threat. "Hey! Can you get up?" Sali shout to the man, head already thinking of what to do if he denied.
Kerik (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

((Optional music for scene?))

After the explosion, numerable shards of stone and burning branches scattered across the village; some petered out against the cold of the snowy ground while others found ample kindling of the thatched-roof cottages. The scene, which once was festive, now was something out of a nightmare. Most were not seriously injured but there were some who lay in the snow, unmoving. Others scrambled to their fallen fellows' sides in the hopes of finding them alive. The druid of the destroyed grove lifted himself from the frostbitten floor and started to ascend the hill once more, glowering up at the beast with stubborn determination. What monks survived the blast endeavored to help others flee the village.

Kerik felt stunned, almost fascinated by the glow of the beast's eyes. He almost didn't notice Sali until she called over to him; he turned his head sharply towards her, startled. Crumpled against the woven fence as the bandit may be, he still felt he could use his limbs. He shouted back, "Y-yes!" That was when the druid yelled back at the two,

"Come! Help me face this beast!" The druid stabbed the bottom of his staff to the ground and growled an incantation in a language that the brigand didn't recognize. The zephyrs grew into a swirling gust, dashing away much of the flames that threatened the homes surrounding them. The fire around the beast remained, however. The drunken bandit pulled himself up and reached for his belt, hastily withdrawing his axe for potential use. His shield was in one of the cottages, and so he could only hope that the use of his weapon alone would suffice.

The druid then pulled his staff from the ground and extended his hand in the direction of the monster; its burning yellow eyes turned onto the white-clad arbiter, and the beast took a step from the burning wreckage nearer to him.

The druid cried, "Face me, old one!" And the beast let a deep bellow which rose into an inhuman squeal.
Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

She took a deep breath, calming her nerves after hearing that inhuman noise. Hands adjusting its grip on the weapon. It seems like that thing wants a fight.

Seeing Kerik take out a weapon of his own, Sali scouted to anyone else who needed her help -- No, she needs to focus on helping the druid defeat the beast. He probably knows what type of demon those yellow eyes belong to, she will support him while they take care of exploiting its weaknesses. "Distract it!" She says in a commanding tone to her company before running to attack the beast. Incantations need concentration, the druid needs focus right now. That's what she thought, getting ready to the possibility of being blown away again at the cost of giving the old man time.

She hates magic and stuff, but there is a type of advantage that even she can see: Range attacks. It's not every day that Sali has to be a cover-up for a caster, however, it's not that different than escorting people (At least for her experience.)

It didn't pass through her mind if she could rely on the young blond -- to be brave and call for the beast once it takes interest in her.
Kerik (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

Kerik felt a sharp ache in his back as he rose to his feet, choosing to ignore it in the face of the beast's unnatural howl. He focused on the creature as Sali and the druid started to engage it, running towards the right side of the creature whilst hoping that its attentions were caught on the warrioress. The beast craned its neck down to peer at Wulpet as she charged, growling a guttural, unpleasant sound. It stomped its gnarled hooves in anticipation to attack and started running back at her-- but as it grew close, the beast ground to a halt. It squealed yet again, stepping back and raising its pointed ears in her direction. Up close, Sali would be able to pick up an awful odor-- the smell of death, stronger the closer she grew to the thing.

As the creature paused, the brigand shouted in its direction, "Hey! Hey ugly! Over here!" It didn't seem to be enough to get the thing's attention, however, so Kerik reached to the ground and picked up a piece of stone to hurl at it. The stone landed on the beast's flank, causing it to then turn more towards him. It growled once more, and the bandit immediately regretted his decision.

Meanwhile, the druid growled a different spell this time, focusing entirely on the monster. He withdrew a kris from beneath his robes and chanted further, drawing the blade beneath the sleeve of his other robed hand. He grit his teeth, feeling the blade's bite along his forearm. This, of course, was part of his spell. The trees shuddered under the wind and roots shot up from the ground, wrapping themselves quickly around the beast's hind leg.
Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

"You demon!" Sali practically breathed out, holding the feeling of nausea back after being attacked with such a strong smell of a million rotten corpses. She never smelled something like that before, so strong that it makes her nose scrunch up and she holds her breath. But those things didn't stop her from preparing to slash the creature, instead, the monster stopped before her on its own. At the moment she inhaled a bit of the air, her nose burned and her tongue tasted what seems to be her dinner almost leaving the stomach.

Just as she hoped, the young man called out for the enemy when she faltered due to the scent of death itself. When it didn't move away from her, a rock was thrown at it. Sali thanked him in her head, almost out of breath and needing some air when it finally turned its head.

Putting her mouth over her right arm, still holding the iron longsword on a tight grip, she inhales the air needed with her cloth as some type of barrier for the smell. With the strange creature still looking over Kerik, Sali sees her opportunity when some plants grabbed some of its legs from deep below. These are work from the druid she's sure, no need to worry about herself being immobilized then.

Her brown eyes turn fierce, legs moving her as fast as Sali can. With a jump, she launches herself to strike the neck and kill the monster for good.
Kerik (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

Kerik's diversion worked well enough that when the druid's summoned roots wrapped themselves around the beast's leg it jerked suddenly, genuinely startled. The roots twisted further, tightening their grip the longer the creature's limb was entangled. With its free legs the monster kicked and squealed, struggling violently to escape the grip of the druid's enchantments. It was not enough, as soon after Sali's iron sword bit the flesh of the demon's dusky, fur-covered neck. The thing gaped its toothy maw and a black, reeking goop oozed from the wound the warrioress made. The blow was decisive; soon after it was delivered the beast's front legs gave out beneath it.

As the foul creature fell to the snowy ground it seemed to shrink in size. The druid stepped closer, muttering yet another spell beneath his breath. "O' Old One." He began. "I bind you. To Her Oath Eternal, I return you." As the beast's black ooze spilled forth it grew smaller and the light of the fires shone more onto the monster's features. It was covered in gray fur, with a narrow face, huge tusks and a distinctive snout. As Kerik stepped closer he narrowed his eyes. Some sort of... boar demon? His newfound proximity meant that he began smelling the creature's stench, so the brigand quickly pinched his nose with a frown. There was no mistaking the nature of the odor.

The druid droned on, "Bound by words spoken. Bound by blades clashed. Bound by Her undying will. I banish you once more!" In the burning wreckage of the grove something stirred, seeming to pull the defeated creature in its direction. The boar jerked as the force dragged it, scrambling its shrinking feet in desperation. Then it dug its front, cloven hooves into the ground and seemed to focus its attention on the man who threatened to banish it with his spell.

Wavering under a weakening magic arose a shard of stone, likely from one of the shattered pillars, behind the druid. It hovered in the air for an instant before seeming to throw itself at the back of the man's head, making a clean hit and sending him toppling to the floor. The incantation was disrupted and the force vanquished; the monstrous boar stood up again, stumbling away from Sali and nearly running over Kerik. The brigand let a surprised cry but managed to jump out of the way as the monster staggered into the frozen woodlands, leaving a trail of black ooze behind it.

The village grew quiet, spare the dwindling flames coming from the ruined sacred grove.
Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

Sali was a bit disturbed. That thing isn’t bleeding, or it is and his blood is made of such a dark and smelly...? It’s disgusting, whatever it is. Taking small steps back, the warrioress breathes more easily when her nose isn’t so close to it.

It didn’t die in one blow, so she still kept her sword in hands. From what she hears of the incantations, the druid is going to finish the job. Returning it? Banishing it again? As long as the monster disappears and stop causing such horrors around the village, she is fine with it. But in her head, she reflected if it isn’t better to just kill it and make sure something like today doesn’t repeat.

Well, the druid is the authority here. He knows what he’s doing, she hoped, so after the deed is done Wulpet will ask some questions to him prior to helping the wreck of a village.

Or so she believed. While he used his magic, the beast still clinging unto the ground for his life, her eyes captured the moment a rock fragment smashed the back of the old man’s head from the edge of her vision. Sali felt a pang in her heart, shock clear in her face.

Damn it! She put her guard down, forgetting how earlier she had appraised the animal as a magical beast. Of course! If it is, then obviously it can use some sort of magic!

The beast flee, almost running over Kerik while Sali rush to the fallen senior, sword sheathed again before kneeling on the snow and noticing some red blood flow down from the head to the back of his neck.

“Old man, oi! Wake up and heal yourself!” Sali shakes him a little, hand gripping tightly his shoulders. A part of her really wants to stand up and do what she’s better at: chase after the monster to end it.

But she can’t leave him like this.

Looking over, the woman analyze Kerirk. He doesn’t seem the type to carry bandages on him.
Kerik (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

Once the beast had retreated into the gloomy woodlands Kerik rushed over to the side of Sali and the druid. When the warrioress shot him an analytical stare he lifted his hands, defensively saying, "I'm no fixer, miss. I just hit things." He knelt near her, his eyes on the druid. "Is he...?" The bandit started to ask before spotting a hint of movement in the spell-caster's fingertips. The druid groaned, lifting his head enough to look towards Wulpet and grumble, "I'm awake, I'm awake... Oof."

The old man started to lift himself from the floor, but only managed to keep his head risen; the strike clearly concussed him. "Listen to me, young ones," he started, "...That thing cannot be left to roam." He blinked rapidly, fighting off a wave of dizziness. The blood from the back of his head soaked his head of long hair as well as some of his white robes. "You are the only ones here who can stop it...! His freedom spells disaster on these lands."

Kerik frowned. "Woah woah woah, old man. I understand why you're freaked out-- I mean, that thing was horrifying-- but I'm not some hero! And if he's run away, what's to say he'll come around here ever again? We probably scared him off for good!" He smiled cheekily over at Sali, hoping that she'd agree. "Why not just let the lords deal with it when they go hunting?" In response the druid calmly collected his staff and smacked the irresponsible brigand on the nose. The bandit grabbed his nose and let out a loud, "--Ow!"

"Don't tempt me, boy. I may be injured, but I can still call the trees to pull you underground." The old man threatened. "You've destroyed much with your rash behavior, and the consequences threaten so much more...! Do you even know what you're dealing with?! Ugh..." The druid took a deep breath, steadying himself. He then looked up at Sali. "...What do you say?"
Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

Relief ran all over her blood once the druid responded, hands falling off from those white robes. It appears that he’s in awful pain, maybe that impact made more damage than she could see. The moment her head turned to look for help, his raspy voice called out in a weak but resolute tone.

Sali listen to him attentively, expression grim with the prospect of that thing running amok in these lands as the man desperately tell. It didn’t surprise her when those wise eyes looked at her and Kerik, words seeking for their help to vanquish the monster.

The blond man speaks first. His immediate rejection, accompanied with some weak excuses at the prospect of going after such terrifying beast on their own volition, is the reaction from someone who doesn’t want to risk their life so carelessly. When he turned towards her for support, she shook her head solemnly. Sali knows, there are some creatures that human kind can’t have the grace to leave be.

With the sound of a smack, the woman closed her eyes, a smile surfacing and the stressed eyebrows relaxing. It is a bit cute, to think nobels would even try to hunt such a smelly and ugly animal. Not to imagine if they could even kill it when a slash to the throat only hindered that thing.

But her good mood took a dive when she heard it — he is the one responsible for such a tragic night in the end. Sali couldn’t hold back a sideways glare at Kerik before refocusing again at the druid.

“You have my word, I’ll hunt that thing down and kill it for good. With or without help.” Sali didn’t need to turn, her words already pointed at whom she meant them for. There is no mistaking it, Kerik helped her when facing the demonic beast and the warrioress is grateful for it. But who could say it wasn’t a coverup for his previous actions? Or that his shabby appearance is anything trustworthy to turn her back to? They were in danger moments before, now she can’t be sure what the owner of such blue eyes will do when the adrenaline isn’t there to influence him.

Somehow, a deep sight escape her tight lips. “The chances of tracking down that thing will be better if you come with me, there is no mistaking on that.” She turns to face him then, some sort of dead eyes analysing Kerik’s face.

“If it makes your heart lighter, I will not condemn you if you run away before facing that monster again. I know some folks don’t have it on them to do what’s right.” Sali rolls her eyes, displeased only thinking about it. “So are you coming with me or do I have to fix your screw up on my own?”
Side Characters (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

When Sali volunteered to help the druid breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you..." He uttered, before casting his gaze back on the troublesome brigand. "As much as I'd like to, I cannot force you, either... but if you require more incentive you should know that helping in this matter means you may not be exiled from Crottletor forever." Though he was weary the spell-caster quirked a brow at Kerik, anticipating his response to the both of them.

The bandit frowned as Sali and the druid conversed, clearly not missing the tone they took when discussing the mess he made. They were right, however; this was a matter that probably wouldn't solve itself, even if he liked to think that it would. The beast that appeared was clearly powerful, to be so capable of spells and of withstanding blows that would kill normally. He covered his face with his hands for a second, groaning before letting his arms drop. "Alright. Alright. I'll help. But I can't make either of you any promises that it'll be enough."

The druid chuckled a bit at Kerik's response. "Oh, it won't be... you two are going to need some things before you go." He then pointed towards the ruined grove. "First, fetch me the ring, or what's left of it if you can." He instructed, eyes still on the brigand. The latter man complied and walked towards the ruins to start searching for it; when he was out of earshot, the older man turned his attentions back to Sali. "...I'm sure you have questions, and I will do what I can to answer them, but know this is a matter involving ancient magics, and... I already know I don't have all the answers you may seek. This event is... unprecedented." The druid shifted and managed to sit up, closing his eyes as another wave of dizziness washed over him.

"Ugh..." he rubbed his nose and continued. "The monster you fought, he is clearly weakened and will be for some time. I do not anticipate that will last, though. And be aware; he may not always look like the beast we saw tonight. Originally, he was no beast at all... He is skilled in the ways of war and combat. Because of this, I hope he stays the way he is. For if he doesn't, this could become a much larger problem than the two of you can solve. Time is of the essence. But do not be afraid to ask for help along the way; you will likely still need it."

_

((Optional music.))

The longest night carried with it an undeniable, familiar cold. It seeped through the fur of his hide, through flesh and into his ancient bones. The beast ran for a time but, as the flames and lanterns of the village disappeared into the foreign woodlands surrounding him, the boar's pace calmed into a slow lumber. He knew winter's bite well, better than most. He had already made peace with it. And it helped to soothe the burning wound that the warrioress carved into his neck, numbing it to the point that he knew he'd soon forget it even existed. The blow sapped him of his strength whether or not he remembered it; though he wished he could run further from them, the weakness he felt in his legs urged the creature against such an act.

Although his eyes were now much more accustomed to the darkness, it was still almost impossible for him to tell what his surroundings were. It was quiet now, aside from the whistling wind and the occasional crack of branches weighed down by fresh snowfall. In the blackness, his mind was more alive than the world itself. Already he could just barely see the vaguest shapes of figures in the dark; he could hear a distant melody on the wind. The beast paused in his march and, after a moment of stillness, twisted his head to his left to spot one of the looming figures.

A woman in white, with skin as pale as the billowing gown she wore, watched him from the dark while wearing a veil over her eyes. All of time seemed to freeze as she slowly raised pallid, thin fingertips and pushed up the veil to see him more clearly. Her eyes were empty. Glassy. Knowing.

Behind him, a tree branch snapped loudly. The beast whirled around to face the direction of the noise, sensing danger. But the threat never came, and when he looked back towards the veiled lady he found that she was no longer there. But he could hear her voice as she whispered in his ear...

"Tariku..."
Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

Seeing Kerik leave, Sali observed his back. His walk, his pace, things like these could tell her a lot about someone. What she saw was enough for her, because as much as the brigand disliked the situation he still chose to try and help. Try is enough for a start. Facing the druid, her analytic stare subsided into a warmer one. For all the cold she feels, the elder is feeling the pain too.

"Right, questions." Sali says in a frigid tone, "Why did all of this happen in the first place?" She fumed, her arms extend to indicate all the destruction around them. This village, even if not being her birthplace, was somewhere she had started to make a living. She came to know people, work for them and live so much in only a few moons. Of course, she became attached, and now that string of affection pulled her heart in a familiar pain as if mocking her decision to stay. It made her teeth clench, rage towards the beast rising like fire on dry wood.

"Also, what is that thing!? How can I kill it!? I don't care if it has to be magic! I'll find someone to do it then!" She puts her hands over her chest. A bitter taste surged on the mouth for shouting such words, Sali couldn't help feel distressed. Magic is wild. She isn't magic, not a drop of her blood carries it -- if it did, then she would stop looking for the reason why bad luck likes to cling into her. Her point is that incantations and runes, no matter the type people choose to channel wild energy, it's something Sali Wulpet will always suffer against. She can't defeat a spirit with a sword, or stop a fireball with only a wood shield. Magic only let's her run away and she is so tired of it. Now he's saying her objective is to defeat something involving Ancient Magic? Actual wild Ancient Magic?

If she puts more strenth, her nails will tear her palm from such tight fists.

"Maybe I should've gone after it, "Sali whispered to herself, looking down. Thinking back at how weak and scared the beast appeared to be before fleeing, it probably knew how close to deaths embrace it was. With one or two more strikes -- no, even if it took a hundred sword slashes she would have killed that. But she chose to help someone, again, instead of going after blood to spill. Now, not only will the monster gather back their strength but change form. With the snow falling, it won't take long before the trail of black goo starts to fade. Why did the gods send such a bad omen?
Side Characters (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

The druid's eyes softened as he witnessed Sali's building frustration; to send her off at such a time was especially bitter, the old man understood. "Do not trouble yourself so, child," He started, placing one of his hands on his shoulder as he started to regain his bearings. "This... may well have happened sooner or later, anyhow. The world consists of dualities, forces which oppose, and pull against eachother for dominance. It can be seen everywhere... and this matter is not separate from the world. You see, the ring which was placed upon the altar of our grove represents many things most of the villagers have forgotten. Once, many years ago, it belonged to a long lost queen."

The elder turned his eyes towards the wreckage of the grove. "This place in particular was once her home. The ring is her's. And it was used those ages ago to contain the greatest threat to her kingdom; a vicious general known as Tariku. That beast... though I know not what magics made him so, I'm certain that it is him. She imprisoned him within the ring to atone for his crimes and to protect the world from him. Now that he's emerged he will want vengeance." He sighed. "It was purported that the ring be impenetrable by its prisoner. I'm not sure why that changed, but I fear the ring shattered. Before you go, its pieces must be recovered. That is why I sent the boy to reclaim them."

"If the ring is broken you will need a smith to reforge it. But not any smith will do-- there are inscriptions on the ring that must be rewritten." The old man took a deep breath before calling out, "GODA!"

Kerik looked up briefly from where he was, searching for the ring, but then quickly returned to work. Soon after, a young man ran up from down the hill where some of the villagers remained. "Master?" The youngster asked. The druid beckoned him closer and instructed, "Fetch me some charcoal and parchment, if you can find any. If not, cloth or wood will do. Make haste...!" Goda bowed and quickly left to fulfill the task given. Then the druid addressed the woman again. "With the ring, and the scriptures, your task is simple; repair or reforge the ring, fight the beast again and, once he is weakened, you will return him to the ring with a chant. I'll provide that to you as well, once they return."
Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

"Thank you. I'll make sure to not forget your instructions." Sali inclined in a small bow, calming down from her fervent feelings.

Someone to forge or repair that ring, she pondered while observing Goda leave, has to be a skilful smith with runes knowledge. There is no one she knows with that criteria, even if she is acquaintance with numerous smiths who repaired her equipment. She does remember hearing rumours and bard songs about a skilful forger up north, at the capital of the neighbouring country, one that created unique blades and enchanted armour for their Kings army. But going all the way there is a bit of a hassle.

"Sir, do you know of any smith with those capabilities you named? Someone we can seek inside this kingdom." She asked serious, hoping that a long journey to only repair the ring wouldn't happen. The sooner she gets the vessel working, the earlier this Tariku can go back to his imprisonment and pay his long-forgotten crimes. Well, the tanned woman would have more sympathy for someone stuck inside an object for years if they hadn't destroyed lives in front of her. It doesn't matter if he atoned for his past crimes, this supposed general had made brand new ones once freed from his prison this night.

Shaking her head, the warrioress looks over to Kerik. "Make sure to find every piece if it's broken!" She instructed in a loud demanding tone. "The last thing we want is to leave a piece behind and have to come back later."

A gust of wind makes her shudder, arms crossing in reaction, making her think back that part of her equipment and belongings was left at the inn she worked. The building could be seen from their location, it doesn't look like much survived the fire. Sali would have to do with what was left in her person. It wouldn't be a first time, so the woman doesn't bother to go check. If something did survive, the owner can have it.
Kerik (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

Kerik kept searching in the smoldering ruins of the temple, grumbling a bit as he overheard Sali calling over further instructions. With some effort, the brigand pushed the husk of a birch tree off of the brazier that once contained the ring. His eyes widened and he knelt forward, reaching out towards a pile of soot and dying embers to collect what appeared to be two halves of the same ring. How it broke so cleanly, as well as how it managed to remain in the brazier during the conflict, baffled him. He studied the two sides with a mixture of awe and discomfort; since he did not hear the counsel of the druid, the item's relation to the emergence of the monster eluded him.

Meanwhile, the druid thought on Wulpet's question regarding a worthy smith. He looked away, pondering their options for a while before shaking his head. "...There were many, once... but now, the sort of craftsman you need is rare indeed. The sort of smith you need, a rune-smith, may be beyond our reach now. But... there is hope." He looked up at the warrioress again, determined. "There is a castle to the east. It is a ruin; but once it housed some of the most talented smiths in the land. And it may have what you need within; be it a tome, a scroll, or a stone to learn by. Once you have the proper instructions, you should be able to teach even the most humble of smiths."

The older man placed a hand on his crown, grimacing. "Ah, this is getting more complicated the more I think on it..." At that point the young man returned with a blank scroll, meekly mumbling, "The scripture, master?" The druid looked back at Goda and grunted. "Oh, yes. Of course." The monk collected a loose plank of wood for the injured druid to write upon with charcoal. As the writing was made, the druid stated simply. "Goda, you must accompany these warriors on their journey."

Goda balked at such directions. "What?" He blurted, but the older man was not deterred. "Goda." He repeated. "I'm sending these warriors on a journey that requires knowledge in the old ways... I'm too injured, so I cannot go myself."

The monk tugged on the cloth of his cloak and fussed, "But master, I haven't yet finished my training! Certainly--"

"I will not hear excuses!" The druid interjected. "You are one of the oldest of my pupils, and it would be thoughtless to leave them without a guide. You understand the situation almost as well as I do. It must be you."
Sali Wulpet (played by Helleyn)

"I'm sorry," Sali interrupted the both of them, "But your master is right. I don't have much knowledge about this matter involving what he had said." She admitted not even a bit ashamed. "It will be better for you to come, then the chances of us doing something wrong will be almost none."

Looking over at the apprentice, Sali felt more comfortable with the idea of travelling with Kerik. Having three people in a group, it would be harder if one tried to do something funny. Not that she trusted Goda more than Kerik, even if he does look more trustworthy. She still doesn't know both of them that much and Wulpet knows that appearances can be deceiving. Her skin prickled at how much faith and trust she has to give to strangers, only so she has the chance to stop Tariku. Life never gets easier for her.

"If you are worried about your safety, I can assure you I will give my all to complete this mission. That includes protecting the members of this party until it is completed." With determined eyes, she gives her honest oath to them and the earth. Her right hand resting above her heart, showing how far she had gone upon the path of a knight once upon a time. When she noticed it, her hand shot down to grip her pants. She isn't a knight. She isn't.
Kerik (played by iltheyn) Topic Starter

Though Sali moved her hand down sharply the meaning of the initial gesture she made was not lost on the two she spoke with. The younger of the two's brow furrowed and he tucked his arms into his sleeves whilst folding them. The elder gave a nod in appreciation and said, "Thank you. I understand this is no small favor to ask of you. But you did so well to fight the beast... I cannot think of a better person to finish it."

Goda simply sighed, resigned to his role. "Ok..."

Kerik stood up after inspecting the ring and started jogging back down the hill towards the druid and his new traveling companions. Holding each half of the ring in each hand, he was quick to pipe up. "I found it! You won't believe this, but the thing's just split in half!" He lifted the halves of the accessory before the three, showing off the clean cut it sustained. "Maybe this'll be easier than we thought! Right?"

Goda approached Kerik with his arms still tucked, squinting to get a better look at the thing. The fires had started to die, so light was not as available as it was even a few minutes ago. "Well, be that as it may, we still have to do the footwork." The bandit scoffed a bit at the monk's statement. "Well that's not so hard, is it? Feels like walking's most of what I do these days. -- Wait. You're coming too?" The monk nodded and the brigand added. "Well, you'll get used to it too I'm sure, Books."

"Its Goda."

"Nice to meet you, Goda! I'm Kerik."

The monk rolled his eyes; he could tell already he wasn't going to like traveling with the blonde man.

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