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  #51  
Unread 27th of August, 2004, 10:21
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Heulwen

Slightly perplexed by the hesitancy that Aleina shows in pursuing the logical course of action, Heulwen is at first resentful of the delay that her meeting will cause. However, when Aleina mentions the possibility of returning to Kingscross to help the people there after what most likely happened when the orcs arrived, Heulwen thinks she understands her concerns. These others are humans, and naturally are more worried about what might happen to a group of humans, especially a group which they have been in contact with, than a solitary unknown dwarf. Were Kingscross a halfling village, Heulwen might feel the same way. However, given that there is little chance of Heulwen ever encountering a halfling village, there is almost no chance that she'll ever be in their shoes, and the opinion she voices reflects that.

"The healer's patient will be more in need of our help than Kingscross. He was unconcious when the healer left him and may still be if his injury isn't completely healed. Alone and unconcious he stands little chance of survival. At least in Kingscross the survivors of the orc raid will have each other to rely on as they rebuild."
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Unread 27th of August, 2004, 13:10
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Dun

"I too wish we could turn back and learn of the fate of Kingscross," Dun looks down saddened by what he is about to say, "but Lyr is right, we can't go back, at least not right now and not without endangering Kingscross."

His gaze turns towards the Healer, "I find Lucius ... well, if he doesn't want any help ... he's sure a stubborn old man." Dun looks back at the others, "And well, yes, his patient deserves our help, even if he does not."
  #53  
Unread 27th of August, 2004, 16:10
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Rhotha'ah

The Dorn looks at the assembled group sans the healer, his thoughts still clouded by the continuing lack of information regarding his wife. He has but one clue, though, and that is the township of Baden's Bluff.

"While I would like to know the fate of Kingscross also, I fear that should we be seen there, we will get weighed down by the pleas of those left to pick up the pieces of what is left, or worse.." He lets the pause hit like a pick striking a soft cavern wall, leaving the implications of what might happen to them there be imagined by each individual in the group.

"I also say we hunt down the healer's pet and the quarry atop it, before deciding what to do next."
  #54  
Unread 28th of August, 2004, 00:26
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Aashya

The way the Dorn says it: "I also say we hunt down the healer's pet and the quarry atop it," gives Aashya pause. The big Northman seems so alien standing there in his animal skins and with his weapons strapped to his back. Hadn't she heard him say something about searching for women that had been stolen in a raid?

"Are we decided then?" she asks, looking at each member of the group in turn ending with Aleina. "We'll go back and see if we can find the healer's patient.

"But you don't know what's wrong with him?" she continues, directing the question at Aleina. Aashya hadn't even known there was a patient till this morning. What else doesn't she know?

"Then I suppose we should ask Lucien to tell us more about him."
  #55  
Unread 28th of August, 2004, 00:52
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Heulwen

Even though Aaysha directs her question at Aleina, Heulwen provides the answer, since as far as she knows, the others haven't met the dwarf, "The dwarf had a grave injury that smelt of death. Indeed, were it not for the fact that he was talking and moving when I saw him, it would have been easy to mistake him for dead."
  #56  
Unread 30th of August, 2004, 10:57
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Aashya

The dwarf had smelt of death, Heulwen said. Aashya would not recognize such a thing herself. Is a halfling like its wogren companion then? she wonders. She had already discovered Heulwen's special ability to see in the dark; now it seems the halfling huntress has a sensitive nose as well.

Aashya looks for Aleina's reaction to the other's responses. She tries, but it is impossible for Aashya to guess what Aleina's preferred course of action might be. The woman seems to wear a mask of impartiality that can hardly be a reflection of her true feelings. Why hide herself from them?

"He may be dead already, if what you say is true," Aashya says, turning back to Heulwen. "How long has it been since the healer and patient parted company?" And how long will it take us to backtrack to find him? It seems to her now a hopeless errand, but the sooner they get it over with, the sooner they can move on to other things.
  #57  
Unread 30th of August, 2004, 11:09
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Heulwen

"If he has died since parting company with the Healer it was not because of the injury that drove him into Kingscross. The Healer passed me on his way out of Kingscross with his patient. The smell of death no longer clung to the dwarf, and I was as close to him at the time as I am to you now. I would have noticed it if it was still there."

"Still, there are other things besides a lingering injury that can kill a lone person out here in the wild. The sooner we find the dwarf the less the risk that something has transpired."
  #58  
Unread 31st of August, 2004, 01:57
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Aleina

The channeler remains silent in the face of Aashya's continued inquiry. As she hopes, someone else steps forward and answers the question. The halfling had been a slave, but from everything Aleina has seen so far, she wonders how that could be true. Heulwen certainly didn't act like someone who had been stripped of her freedom by beings as foul as orcs. In contrast to what the seer would expect, the ex-slave seemed confident, sure of herself , and not at all inclined to look over her shoulder. Maybe having a giant wolfish companion eased her mind.

Her concern for the dwarf was certainly more believable, given that both were hunted races. Her blue-white eyes linger on Heulwen slightly longer than they do the others. He smelled near death. That was how the halfling had put it last night - though it seemed an age ago - when she'd asked Aleina to warn the dwarf about the raid on Kingscross. The same wording she used now; an odd way to put it, for sure. Aleina is tempted to question it but decides not to delay their departure any longer than is necessary. The group seems in agreement - a solid step forward and she'd rather they left on that note.

"If he was mending then I can probably take over his recovery. I will speak to Lucien about it."
  #59  
Unread 4th of September, 2004, 03:10
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Huelwen

"Good! Are we decided then?" Heulwen asks, looking to their faces for confirmation. This talking was begining to strain her. Couldn't humans do anything without talking about if forever? If you discussed things for to long you never get anything done; fear and indecision would paralyze you. It was far better to act, and think only about the action than to dwell on the past and the future. For a slave there is only today.

Of course, Heulwen is no longer a slave, a fact of which she must continually remind herself. She does have a future and should probably spend some time thinking about it. For now however, her thoughts are consumed with their present predicament; how to help the healer's dwarven patient while still keeping themselves out of harms way. Time was their enemy in both situtations, but in a land ruled by the Dark God, time was everybody's enemy.

Seeing everyone nod or otherwise signify thier agreement, Heulwen leads the party out of their encampment, taking a little bit of time to try and hide the signs of their presence.

"We dare not back track, in case the Hound is following us. We will just have to hope that the healer's horse stayed on the road."

Leading the group across country, Heulwen directs them towards the westward road, but always makes sure that the distance between them and last night's battle continues to increase.
  #60  
Unread 8th of September, 2004, 09:34
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At last, their way is decided, despite the debate and discussion. They return to their makeshift camp and find the Healer waiting patiently, running one hand along Bombur's neck. The mule, as always, seems content with the attention no matter where it might come from. Yet it turns its eyes to Aleina and almost shows an inclination of plodding over to her, but instead it bends its neck and starts to graze.

"Come to a decision?" the Healer asks, looking at each of their faces but finding little there. He listens to the proposal and shakes his head.

"I'll need what's on my horse. In the saddlebags. Even if you can care for him," he gives Aleina an appraising and doubtful look, "how will you find me? Am I to tell you where I'll go next? And what if the Hound should overtake you instead?"

He pauses a moment, watching Heulwen slowly try and hide the signs of human presence. It isn't easy; the various sleeping forms and foot prints make clear indentations in the grass and yet her efforts are far better than nothing at all.

"Perhaps. Maybe I can say that I will travel west for a time and will leave you a sign to follow. Should the dwarf take a bad turn he will need to be seen to...and I would like my effects as well. Yes, he can find me, but I'd rather force him to work for it. Is this agreeable?"

There aren't any sharp words this time. The Healer has seems to have elected a fairer path in dealing with the others. His features are relaxed, but a subtle tension is held in his eyes. The reluctance and danger in trusting them is clear, but what other choice does he have?
  #61  
Unread 10th of September, 2004, 02:29
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Aleina

She considers the words and the man behind them, nettled only slightly by his insinuation that she might not be good enough to care for his patient. He was true, that much she had to give him, even if he refused to see the folly of his course. He would not refuse to aid another, were it his direst enemy. Could she say the same? More importantly, did she want to?

"Let me suggest this then: accompany us until such time as we find your patient. In the meantime you can instruct me on his illness and the method of care you intended. Once we reach him, you can assess his condition yourself and collect your belongings."

And we buy some time to decide our next course of action.
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Unread 10th of September, 2004, 10:40
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"That is acceptable, but...no. You've been warned of him once. I doubt I need voice it again. Very well, let us walk and I shall tell you what I can of the dwarf."

They start to move, skirting a particularly large patch of bladegrass, and begin their cross-country journey. The warmth of the autumn day slowly seeps into their bones, driving away the chill, and a bit of the fear, of the previous night. Moving in a loose line, they file their way through the Westlands.

"He was dying when he came to me," the Healer recounts, his mind reliving the previous night's event, "and I didn't...wasn't certain I could save him. The wound was very bad. Infected. He didn't say how he came by it, but he either didn't, or couldn't, treat it. I don't know many dwarves who are too stupid to take care of themselves. Then again, I don't know many of them to begin with.

"As to the treatment. I saw to it as best as I could and made a poultice of emphalo stalks," he says, looking at Aleina, "Do you know what they are? Good. If that dwarf had come to me an hour later, I doubt I could have helped him. Time was running short."

He falls silent, letting the luke warm breeze join into the conversation; it drifts past, whispering softly of the summer past and winter's slow arrival. Perhaps it will snow south of the Pellurian this year.

Heulwen does her best to guide them in the proper direction. For a time she uses their camp as a reference point, but the overcast sky shrouds the sun. Yet she keeps the sight of sparse panock trees to her left. Within an hour, perhaps two, she comes across what she believes to be the western road. A quick search of the road reveals some hoof marks...and a half-dozen heavy boot prints, each of which travel further away from Kingscross.
  #63  
Unread 10th of September, 2004, 18:19
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Lyr

He is glad that his companions have at last come to a decision as to their immediate objectives. He graduallys drifts back into the circles as they talk, but doesn't contribute anything.

But he's as eager as the rest when they set off, trekking surely through the grass that claws at the air like the promise of bloodshed. He listens to the Healer's words keenly, filing the scraps of lore the man lets slip away to be recorded later. He shares a few snatches of conversation with Dun and Aasyha when they come up.

He watches Aleina. Against his own rational intentions, but he does it anyway.

When they come to the road, he lurks behind Heulwin, studying the way she examines the tracks, trying to pick p a few pointers.
  #64  
Unread 11th of September, 2004, 02:44
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Aashya

Scuff marks in the dust. The tracks are just that to Aashya, and pretty much meaningless except for one or two clear and easily recognized outlines of a horse's hoof. She watches and waits while Heulwen examines them more closely.

She has been thinking about the situation while they walked along. The healer left the dwarf, unconscious and on horseback, then drew the Hound away from his patient, evidently hoping to have the chance to come back for him later.

"How long ago?" she wonders out loud. When the others look her way, she repeats the question, directing it at Lucien:

"How long ago was it that you left him?"
  #65  
Unread 11th of September, 2004, 23:20
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Heulwen

"One horse, six sets of heavy boots," Heulwen mutters to herself as she studies the tracks. "All head away from Kingscross. One horse, thats a good sign. It could very well be our dwarf, still on the healer's horse. The boot tracks though, not good. They're the right kind to be orc tracks, but in all fairness they could be made by men too. The horse came through first, then then group in the boots. They could be chasing the horse, or it could be coincidence..."

Straigtening up, Heulwen notices the others all looking to the healer, waiting for him to say something it would appear.

Now what?
  #66  
Unread 13th of September, 2004, 13:52
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Dun

While they await the Healer's reply, Dun asks Heulwen, "Can you tell how old are the tracks?"

Dun then turns to Aleina and the Healer, "Well, your ministrations will all be for nought if these orcs catch up to the dwarf."
  #67  
Unread 14th of September, 2004, 09:15
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Dun's remark has the Healer's mouth pull into a tight line, but the man makes no reply. Instead he watches the halfling inspect the tracks for a moment before turning his eyes back to Aleina.

"Last night, perhaps midway through. I'd thought the dwarf safe. I may have erred."

The halfling is mostly oblivious to the exchange, reinspecting the footprints, this time for age. She paces a slow semi-circle, back and forth and back again. Her small brow furrows with concentration, but the tracks are hard to read. They must've been made close together, unless she's mistaken, yet whether the boots came before or after the horse is unclear.
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Unread 15th of September, 2004, 04:20
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Aleina

A cold sliver of wind finds its way down her spine, urging her to shiver. She resists whispering of that chill voice, folding her arms into her sleeves instead. Suppose the horse was Lucien's, with the dwarf still aboard. Who would be following him? Orcs out of Kingscross did not seem very likely as they had no way of knowing about the demihuman.

"The Hound may have decided you would return to your patient and sent his men to wait for you. We must be wary."
  #69  
Unread 15th of September, 2004, 04:37
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Heulwen

"Who ever made the boot tracks must have been behind us at the fork," Heulwen reminds the others, "Either that or they were already out along this road and were passed last night by the horse. These boot tracks were not present last night at the fork."

"Time, however, is wasting. Whoever made these tracks is ahead of us and we will be coming up on them from behind. Chances are better that we will catch them by suprise rather than they us. We know they are there, while they do not know that we are here."
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  #70  
Unread 16th of September, 2004, 09:39
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They hasten along the road, the halfling keeping half an eye on the tracks to make certain that they do not diverge. A hush falls along the nine and each is left to their thoughts once more. Yet they do not have to wait long. Ten minutes later, near a copse of panock trees, they come across a bloody mess.

Four orcs lay dead, each with gaping wounds. Some are missing limbs, others look to have had their banded armor torn under the impact of a mighty blow. Dried blood stain the low grasses. One thing remains the same, each of the corpses has been decapitated. Heulwen immediately looks for tracks, but it will take a while to separate them out and learn what happened in the skirmish.
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Unread 16th of September, 2004, 10:19
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Lyr

It's strange.

Dark, orcish blood smells - rancid - much better than the human variety. Lyr closes his eyes, stomach complaining, and lets the winter zephyr caress his face. No, not better, exactly - it reeks like midden run-off - but it doesn't make him want to pass out as the human gore from the battle with the Hound did.

"This couldn't be the work of the dwarf, surely?" he asks quietly. "Surely he was too badly wounded to wield his axe against four foes..." Suddenly, Lyr realises the implication of this, and casts a nervous glance in all directions. "There must be two others, still out here somewhere..."

Slowly, he slides his satchel from his narrow shoulders and withdraws his lorebook. Something about the way the bodies were treated sits uneasily with him, and he must satisfy his own curiosity. Once again, he stands to the side of the group, and once agains unconsciously clsoe to Aleina.

OOC: Lyr makes a Lorebook or appropriate skill check to determine which Eredanean culture uses decapitation as its prefered method of Fell-prevention, cross-referencing anything Heulwen finds in her search.
  #72  
Unread 17th of September, 2004, 05:38
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Aleina

The channeler barely has time to begin thinking about the implications of the past day when they stumble across a scene of slaughter. She grits her teeth against the nausea that rises up, grips her forearms within the sleeves of her robe and presses them into her stomach. Despite these small accomodations, her eyes remain clear and steady, observing as always. Behind the placid wall, her mind whirls while she waits for Heulwen's analysis.

Her stomach turns, and then she feels the electric shock of Lyr's presence at her side. The yearning is still there, intensified perhaps because she so wishes it wasn't, because she begins to understand it's meaning. Suddenly, she is quite sure that if she chose to cast a spell at this moment, it would be nothing to place the drain on him.

Her still eyes flicker uncertainly; the double edged blade of magic, death so close at hand, danger lurking nearby, the imminence of the fell. She sways very slightly, seeing in her mind once again a horrid once-elvish face, feels the clawing fingers slide down her back . . .

She pushes the memories away with a shudder and slides the imperturbable mask back on.
  #73  
Unread 17th of September, 2004, 12:16
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Aashya

It doesn't look real. All that dark blood contrasting sharply with the drained, greyish flesh of the bodies. Look up and you can see the pannock trees swaying in the breeze, the sun trying in vain to shine through the overcast - an ordinary scene.

Only there are too many crows hanging around for it to be ordinary. Aashya suddenly notices the black birds, a few on the ground, most in the trees. They are silent except for the flapping of their wings. Two or three bold ones edge closer to the bodies, eyeing the newcomers warily. They are anxious to get back to the feast.

For some reason, Aashya's eyes are drawn to the dead orcs even though the sight is making her stomach turn. There is one in particular that lies quite near to where she is standing. It's severed head has rolled to one side and almost seems to be staring back at her. She doesn't think that she has ever been this close to an orc - dead or alive - before in her life.

In the short time that she'd spent with the gnomes, she had never seen any of these, the dark god's most loyal minions, up close. She knew that they sometimes boarded the rafts, and that the gnomes would buy them off with ale or other goods. But as luck would have it, that had not happened while she travelled the river.

This face though........ As ghastly and as unreal as it seems in death, it brings to life in her mind a picture of a similar grim face, but one that is alive and glaring hatred at her from its red-rimmed eyes. She can see it leering over her, dark but lit by the flickering light of red flame. Now it turns away, shouting something in an uncouth language that Aashya thinks she could understand if only she could hear the words. Suddenly, she knows.

It is shouting orders. There are more coming. Something is burning. People are screaming. In the brief moment when the orc is distracted and looking away, she...............................

Aashya takes a step forward. And the image is gone from her mind. There are the dead orcs, looking eerily unreal again. Aashya has to resist an almost overwhelming urge to kick the dead face into a bloody pulp. She stands there with her hands balled into fists, and a fierce light in her eyes.

Orcs. She'll kill them, if any survived.
  #74  
Unread 17th of September, 2004, 22:49
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Heulwen

Her suspicion that orcs made the tracks was one that she'd rather have not had confirmed, but it seemed the evidence was right here in front of her face. Four dead orcs, each decapitated to prevent them from rising as Fell.

"What of the other two?" Heulwen mutters, as she begins to search the tracks, trying to piece together what happened and answer that question. "The bodies were not cut for meat so either the other two fled when their comrades went down, or something drove the last two on.

Trying to put all speculation out of her mind, Heulwen concentrates on what the tracks tell her.
  #75  
Unread 21st of September, 2004, 04:58
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Lyr

"Perhaps they were pursued themselves, but more likely they were hunting their prey too closely to delay to collect meat," Lyr says, without glancing up from his book. "It is the work of a moment to 'protect' a body from arising as one of the Fell, but to butcher it for flesh takes longer."

He doesn't even notice how cool and detatched his voice is, speaking of such brutal and terrible matters when moments before the mere thought made him queasy.

Last edited by Dirigible; 21st of September, 2004 at 17:31.
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