Forsilvra :: Winds of Change
Old 05-09-2011, 03:09 AM
  #1
Rhovanion Selidor
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Default Leaning Against Death's Door :: 5/2-5/3 :: Ethan, Rhovanion

Rhovanion moved as quickly as he could through the woods, but the weight of his companion made it feel as though they were hardly making any gains at all. Ethan couldn't walk, and he was far too heavy to carry, so a hastily constructed travois made from thin branches and one of their cloaks cut into strips was the only way they would both be able to move. The rough bark of the tree branches sliced into Rhovanion's hands as he pulled the contraption along the ground, through a sea of half-crumbled leaves, and over every bump and hidden rock the forest had to throw at them. His lord was still weak and feverish, laying face up on top of the travois. His feet dangled onto the ground as he was dragged, but the rough construction was all Rhove had been able to manage in such a hurry. A few minutes time had been the difference between life and death.

The voices he'd heard by the stream were a pair of Skallding scouts. They hadn't come from Hengill from the east, but out of the woods to the west. As they crested the hill nearby, Rhovanion had ducked behind a jumble of rocks and fallen trees just in time to keep himself from being spotted. He had thought he was safe for a few moments, but they caught sight of his footprints near the stream and he could hear them begin to speak hurriedly to one another. He hadn't wasted another moment. Even with all of the extra weight it had given him, Rhovanion had not let his sword leave his side for even a moment since they'd escaped the burning camp. Before they realized what was going on, he'd rushed the smallest of the two and delivered a blow deep into the man's shoulder. As the first scout bled out, Rhove had a close call with the second scout, who almost lopped one of his ears off with a heavy stone hatchet. But desperation and the element of surprise was still on Rhovanion's side, and after a few blows he took down the second scout as he tried to turn and run back the same direction they'd came.

After checking the bodies and taking any supplies that might help keep Lord Ethan alive, Rhovanion had run back to the gully. Though he was still rambling and complaining about the sudden feelings of hot and cold, the other man was lucid enough to understand that they needed to move fast. He'd tried to walk, but Rhovanion had pulled some excuse and managed to convince him to get on the makeshift travois. The longer he talked and the more he looked, Rhove could see how the bloodrot had started to affect the Lord Ethan's mind. His thoughts were disorganized and he couldn't focus. He needed help, and they both needed to get out of the woods before whoever had sent the Skallding scouts to the stream noticed they were missing.

The sky was dark and the woods were black. More than once his toes jammed into the hard edge of a rock. If he had any energy to cry out, he would have, but sheer physical exhaustion had taken a heavy toll. It was all he could do just to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. His breathing was ragged and hitched every time the wood of the travois cut deeper into his hand. Maybe he was bleeding, but he couldn't stop to check. He couldn't stop to do anything. If he stopped, he might not be able to start again, and then they would both die.

So he kept walking through the dark, the pain, and the chilling fear that Skallding blades were not much farther behind...
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:22 AM
  #2
Ethan Ashpool
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He shivered in his travois, arms wrapped around himself as he alternated between sweats and chills that left his teeth chattering. His mind was entering that place that only those who ever had a feverish dream could enter, and he thought he saw his daughter waving at him, and running with arms outstretched. He wanted to pick her up, but he couldn't. His arms were too heavy. And then she was picked up and carried away, crying for him as he tried to get to her. He groaned, because that was all he had the energy for, and he whimpered her name. He saw Alysenne standing above him, laughing, trying to tell him something, but he couldn't make it out through the sound of the wind rushing through his head. He was tired, and thirsty, and hungry. The exhaustion caused him to drop into fits of sleep, waking every so often when the travois jolted. He wanted to succumb to oblivion. Maybe then he'd be able to sleep in peace...
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:32 AM
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Rhovanion Selidor
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Time passed. Perhaps it didn't. He was so exhausted that he couldn't tell. He just kept pulling the weight, putting another foot down, pulling the weight, another foot.

Pull, foot, pull, foot.

He could have died standing up and his body would have kept on with the pattern for a few more steps before it realized it was dead. The trees began to thin and the moon came out from behind heavy clouds, though she looked just as thin and harrowed as they were. The weak silvery light tinged everything with a gaunt glow, as if they had journeyed far enough through the forest that they had come out in the groves of Amalthia herself. Before more dark thoughts slipped into his head, Rhovanion heard voices. They did not sound kind.

The noise came from behind, though it came closer with every beat of his heart. He yanked on the grip of the travois, pushing his legs to go as fast as they were able. He chanced a look behind him, but saw nothing but the black.

Then, a sickening splintering sound.

The travois sagged in his hands and faltered as he tried to pull on it. It had caught some rock that had been sharper, more immovable than the rest. It had yielded to the stone, and now it would be useless to them. He cursed under his breath, and stood still looking down at the break where the fibers of the wood had been splintered and torn apart. The utter despair lasted only long enough for the next shout from the woods to reach his ears. He let go of the handle that had dug deep into his skin, the took his dagger with trembling fingers and unloosed his lord from the bindings that had kept him steady. With a movement that made every muscle in his body scream, Rhovanion hefted the other man over his shoulders, their combined weight sending him sinking half an inch deeper into the underbrush.

He took a step and stumbled, nearly dropping them both to the ground. He took another, finding more balance this time than the first. More steps. Before he knew it, he was running. His speed built up as he hurtled past the trees as thin as lady's arms, unable now to stop even if he'd willed it. The need was too great and the momentum too strong. But even the most dire of circumstances would not turn him into a horse, and he felt his strength sag with every step as the noises from behind began to overtake them.

An arrow slid into the earth only a few paces from their path. More followed, but there were hardly any trees left to weave through. The ground had become treacherous and rocky, and through the darkness he could see nothing but a thin blur of gray where the earth and the sky mingled.

His foot caught a gnarled root and he felt the world drop out from under them. As he fell, time slowed to a ponderous halt and the world around him suddenly became very clear. As they hit the ground together, sliding against the porous surface of the rocks, he knew what would happen next. They would die here. They would not even see the next sun rise.

He closed his eyes and asked the gods forgiveness for every lie he'd ever told.
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:43 PM
  #4
NPC Knight
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The signal had pierced through the dead silence of the night; two high whistles that sounded like a bird's call, from the trees where they'd hidden their watchman. After that morning on the coast, when a band of raiders had burnt a sleeping Sankan encampment to ash, none of the Forsilvran forces turned a blind eye to the rocks and the gnarled woods. The enemy knew their land, but the successes in Grimstone had somehow made the the commanders forget that lesson. Now good men were dead, but they would not go unavenged.

Swords and bows in hand, the men of the nearby camp heeded the watchman's signal and prepared to meet their foes. The enemy was moving through the woods, but they emerged in a rocky clearing beneath the shadow of the mountain. In the daylight its jagged, inhospitable peak loomed on the horizon, but by night it was nothing more than a great black mass, blotting out what little comfort the starry sky could give. The Skallding had not expected them, and they fell upon the reavers with deadly silence, scattering some back into the forest, but leaving many dead or dying in the rocky field under the mountain.

Cordell Shaw used a dead Skallding's dirty leathers to wipe his blade clean of blood as he watched his archers sweep over the corpses to retrieve their arrows. Some of their men had given pursuit to the fleeing enemy, but the rest had either returned to camp or stayed to clean up. It was odd, Cordell thought to himself. They were a small party, lean and obviously living perilously off the scarce bounty of the wood while the city was under siege. Yet for all of their disadvantages, they'd driven headlong into the opposing forces, without anything that resembled a battle plan as cunning as the pre-dawn raid two night passed. The knight was just beginning to mull over the possible implications of such an encounter, when one of his archers hailed him from across the clearing.

"Ser, there's two here still breathing..." the boy called as Cordell came close enough to see the men collapsed on the stunted grass, their faces buried in the rocky dirt.

"Then slit their throats and take their weapons. Commander Barthold has enough captives to question," he ordered with a snap in his voice. This one had been giving him trouble since they shipped out, always asking too many questions. It seemed like some of these green boys didn't even know how to shit unless some knight told them how. He was about to turn away when the boy began to shake his head, as though he hadn't quite understood.

"But ser, they..." He turned one of the men over, the one with a crude wrapping on his leg. Cordell had his attention on the dirty bandages, wondering how the man could have even walked far enough to aid in the attack, when his archer brushed some caked dirt off wounded man's tunic. The shape was difficult to distinguish in the dark of night and under so many layers of filth, but when Cordell realized what he was looking at, he knew the sigil instantly. "He's wearing our colors, isn't he, ser? But I don't recognize their faces--"

"Ashpool colors," Cordell cut in, biting on his lip as the pieces fell into place. "And the dragon sigil. Gods, they look half dead already. Must have been in those woods since the day before last."

"Ser?"

"Run as fast as you can to Commander Barthold's tent. We have two men who need a medic immediately. If he asks you why, tell him what we found."

The boy blinked. "W-what did we find, ser?"

Cordell knelt by the fallen men. With the ghost of a grin, he replied, "A dragon's lost treasure."
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