Private Tales Choosing my Religion

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Brock

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Brok didn't like horses. They didn't really like him either. The others on the quest were mostly riding, so he had to jog for most of the road between the two towns.

No one had called it a quest. Brok called it a quest inside his own head. The small band heading west to Chelthan were going for a variety of reasons. There were nearly a dozen of them and the most common reason was that the church was paying.

Brok would take the coin; he needed it. His armour was basic leather that didn't properly fit his huge frame. His sword was a short sword for a human and more like a long dagger to him. He was here for the adventure and because he didn't understand how knighthood worked. He thought that if he did enough deeds then someone would give him a title.

The town slowly came into view. According to the story a third of the town had been abandoned. They had all moved far away from the church. Strange noises came from that place every night. Lights flared through the stained glass windows. The sacred ground had been defiled by something. The town guard who had gone there had not returned.
 
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Rämna Sisters

Faith and Melody
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Despite her extensive traveling, Faith was not an expert rider. She moved primarily on foot. It was slower, but she quite enjoyed the steady pace and the deep, well-earned sleep that came from a good day’s work. Of course, she couldn’t afford a horse of her own and wouldn’t know what to do with one if she could.

Given the... “precarious” nature of her being, she thought it best that another living thing not rely on her too heavily.

Yet she had been given a horse for this task, and although she ached from the ride, she hadn’t fallen off or ridden astray.

The town ahead of them looked normal enough in the daylight, and the stories seemed too dark to be real, but Faith had dealt with darkness before and knew that it could hide very well. She was reassured by the divine energy she felt within her, the power she borrowed every day from the Holy Creator. It was not a coincidence that she had fallen into this assignment, she knew this. She had been called upon to purify a holy place, and although the people here did not sing Their name in worship, all prayers reached the Creator eventually.

She glanced over to Brok, as she had done over and over again when she thought he wasn’t looking. She had never met a half-orc up close nor worked with one, and while she knew to accept all peoples... he did frighten her a little bit. She at least had the grace to feel foolish about this.

In an effort to prove that she was not a prejudiced person, she trotted near to him, asking ”Are you tired, Brok? I could help with that, if you’d like.”
 
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Brock

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Brok turned to look up at the girl on the horse. He took a moment to let her words sink in. Brok had a simple world view and he liked to think everyone meant well. He had also suffered almost daily insults through his life in Elbion. Even if he nodded and smiled at the worst of them, he still liked to recognise when he was being baited. This did not seem to be one of those times.

"Very kind," he called out. A wide smile was a human gesture, but he had always lived among them. If an orc had seem him bear his tusks in that manner, they would have assumed he was ready for a fight.

"We are nearly there and I don't tire easily," he replied.

"Good at running orcs. Running for a long time. Makes it good sport to run them down."

They were interrupted by a man names Gelder Armitage. Supposedly a famous bounty hunter. He kept his elegantly crafted crossbow across his lap at all times. His smile looked more like a sneer, though Brok thought perhaps it was just the rediculous waxed moustache he wore with pride.
 
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Rämna Sisters

Faith and Melody
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Faith couldn’t help from staring at his tusks when he opened that wide grin, but she returned his sentiment with a forced smile of much smaller teeth.

Her expression changed at the interruption, and she looked from the bounty hunter to Brok and back. It was a horribly rude thing to say. ”We should be grateful to have someone with such strength amongst us,” was the best retort she could come up with.

She wasn’t as horrified by Gelder’s words as she ought to have been, she thought. Whenever orcs had been mentioned in the past they were spoken of as little more than monsters. The stories and illustrations of them were terrifying, and the thought of a human lying with one... well, that wasn’t any of her business she thought with a slight flush.

The town had looked normal enough from afar, but when they reached it Faith could see boarded up windows stretching down an entire street. She saw leaves and refuse blown haphazardly, and the silence was deafening.

”Where did they go?” she wondered aloud. She hoped they had found another town.
 
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Brock

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Gelder laughed and shook his head. He wasn't going to apologise, but clearly he hadn't expected anyone to stick up for the halfbreed either.

Brok fell into silence and looked straight ahead. Breaking eye contact was a defense mechanism. He did not know how simple matters were in the tribes. An insult went to blows very quickly and the matter was dealt with in short order.

Brok had once been provoked to the point of throwing a punch. The town guard had broken three of Brok's ribs. It was only because his mother had once been a soldier that they'd let him out of a cell.

"There are still some here," said Brok. He could smell people somewhere. Eventually he saw a face from the upper floor of a building.

"No one said the town had been mostly abandoned," said another rider. Brok cast them a sideways glance. He didn't know this one's name. If Gelder looked a professional for the polish of his armour and wealth in his equipment, this man looked a professional for the plain, but well worn gear he carried. His armour had clearly had several dents beaten out of it. He looked like someone who lived on the move, who knew how to use the longsword at his hip. Brok watched him closely.
 
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Rämna Sisters

Faith and Melody
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Faith wrinkled her face in concern. Whatever was going on with the church here must be significant if the people were willing to abandon their homes. The more terrible explanation did not occur to her at this time, but at least there weren’t bodies in the streets.

She remained mounted as they made their way slowly through the town. She could see a bit farther from this vantage, and she felt more secure with the extra height. Brok didn’t need a horse to be tall, and Faith briefly wondered what it would be like to tower over people all the time. She was tall, for a woman, but it didn’t compare.

She could see the church now. It looked... ordinary, in the daylight. It sat on a small hill which elevated it above the rest of the surrounding homes, and its steeple was modest.

”Perhaps more people have left since the last reports,” she offered an answer to the rider’s comment. ”Should we investigate the church, or perhaps try and find some locals who remain?” Faith did not presume to be leading this expedition, but she did wish to press on.
 
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Brock

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"We should see if the townsfolk are safe," said the professional.

"And who said you were in charge Roland?" laughed Gelder, riding back to the front of the group.

Brok tried to pretend that he wasn't watching the conversation closely. No one had put anyone in charge of the group. The church had paid them a quarter in advance to save the town and then politely declined to send anyone to oversee the quest.

Brok was still certain it was a quest.

"We have our task ahead of us and I don't think we want to be finding out what is in the church at night!"

"What if we let something horrible out?" Brok could not help but interject.

"No one asked you pig blood."
 

Rämna Sisters

Faith and Melody
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Their band had carried on just fine when there was only one objective: reach the town. As soon as there was a decision to be made however, the hierarchy fell apart. Gelder seemed equal parts jovial and mean-spirited, and she decided that she preferred the man in the worn armor.

She felt a small prickle as he insulted Brok, but it was not in her nature to be confrontational. ”He is right,” she said rather pointedly, ”There could be something dangerous in there. We should find some villagers and make sure they’re safe. Then maybe they can tell us what has been going on.”

She dismounted her horse, taking more time than necessary as she knew everyone was now looking at her and a fall would be supremely embarrassing. She stepped next to Brok, ignoring the instinctive tightness in her chest as he loomed over her. He had given her no reason to fear him... she kept reminding herself.
 
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Brock

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Brok's hands were clenched tightly at his side. He hadn't expected the man with the great moustache to just launch back into the insults. He should have been used to it; he had suffered it for his entire life.

Brok wasn't here for the money. He wanted to earn respect, not coin. He had a very simple plan for becoming a Knight and then, in his mind, everyone would have to respect him.

"Fine, but let's not waste too much time. I'll go and walk the perimeter of the grounds whilst you question the commoners."


Brok glanced down at Faith. This close he had to look a long way down from his height. It made him think about how the townsfolk might see him.

"There are some in that house," he said. "Perhaps you should go first."
 

Rämna Sisters

Faith and Melody
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Faith looked up at the half-orc. Lord, his shoulders were wider than her horse, and his skin was such an odd shade of gray. Still... his eyes were kind, and his face had a distinctly human influence that gave her some comfort.

"How do you know?" she asked him, her eyebrows creasing, "It looks completely abandoned." She couldn't see anyone within, nor any sign of habitation. Had she missed something obvious?

She stepped slowly towards the building. The windows were dark and the wooden boards serving as steps creaked beneath her boots. She looked back to Brok, and then fixed her attention on the door. She knocked.

Waited. Knocked again.

"Is anyone in there? We have come to help."[/color[
 
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Brock

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"I see more detail in the dark that humans," he said. "And I can smell people living here too. I'll wait here."

At least someone was talking to him and not at him out of the group. Brok was convinced that by some act of bravery he could earn their respect. It was going to take a lot to shatter his simplistic world view.

"Have you brought food?" came a feminine voice from a window above.

There was another sound on the other side of the boarded up door. Someone was standing there, trying to stay as quiet as possible.

"There's not many of them," came another harsh whisper.
 

Rämna Sisters

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It wasn’t helping the beastial orcish stereotype that Brok could smell people in the house, but Faith could not deny its usefulness.

She looked up and could just make out the top of someone’s head. There was blonde hair, but beyond that she couldn’t say.

”We have been tasked by the church to investigate your troubles here. We have few provisions, but we can escort you back to Grisholm upon our return.”

She paused for a moment, then added ”Is anyone hurt or ill? I am a healer and can help.”
 
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Brock

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"No one hurt who's still alive!" came the first reply.

There was a pause and the next voice came from whoever was lurking on the other side of the door. It sounded like a man in his later years.

"Return? We will make our own way to Grisholm tomorrow at first light if the road is safe. And you will be gone too."
 
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Rämna Sisters

Faith and Melody
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The answer was not comforting. She looked back to Brok with a face of resigned helplessness. She could not assist these people if they did not want it, certainly not if they wouldn’t let her in. The old man was clearly not optimistic about their mission.

”Can you tell us anything about what’s going on? Where is everyone? We only want to help.” If people were dying she needed to know why. Was it sickness? She could defend against most natural illnesses, perhaps they just needed time to trust her.
 
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Brock

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"The church grounds are corrupted!"

"Punishment for the filth that ran it."

"Shht! You can't say that."

"You'll find them there. Don't go at night."

Three different voices coming from different parts of the house. The one that silenced commentary on the town's priest was the older voice from behind the door. Whoever they were, their opinion had sway.

They also had control of the lock.



"Sure you don't want to help? Go break down that door and do something...orcish...to be useful," said Geldar.

Brok recognised it for what it was. A man with no sense of patience, finding something to amuse himself with. Brok remained silent.
 

Rämna Sisters

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The panic in their voices was most concerning, especially the desperation with which the old man silenced the rest of them. She stepped back, looking slightly crestfallen that they would not allow her in to help them. She suspected they would not be giving her any more useful information. ”Thank you,” she said. She looked as though she were about to say something else, but then thought better of i

The rest of the group appeared to be losing their patience, and she checked the sky above. The sun was still on the ascent, but not far off from noon. She had her own reasons for not wanting to work by night, and so she returned to Geldar and the rest.

”We must go to the church. It would be best to investigate by day, it seems.” She said this with unusual conviction, and looked to Brok for support. She doubted anyone here could prevent him from doing anything he wanted. If he agreed, the rest would likely follow.
 
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Brock

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Brok did not think that anyone would follow him. He didn't voice his agreement beyond a slight grunt, turning towards the church.

It was the largest building in the town, certainly the quietest side of the town too. The entire place was close to silent, but when he stood still and faced in that direction the silence held a deeper quality. Like standing on the precipice of a deep well.

A silence you could fall into.

He reminded himself that his heroes were brave men. They wore shining armour, rode great steeds and were followed into battle by their colourful bannermen. This was no time for fear.

He took one step and then it became easier. It was just walking forwards after all.
 

Rämna Sisters

Faith and Melody
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Faith felt relief when Brok started towards the church. Suddenly his stature and imposing looks were a boon, sure to scare away any would-be enemies. She walked beside him, having to take a couple of steps for each one of his.

Up close she noted his determination, but in spite of this how gentle his face was. "I am glad you are here. Why did you join this expedition, Brok?" Her tone was pleasant and full of genuine curiosity.

She wasn't sure if anyone else was following, and she made a deliberate choice not to look. She did not want to give Geldar the satisfaction, he seemed like an unpleasant man.
 
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Brock

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He turned his head sharply to look down at Faith. It was not done in annoyance, it was simple surprise at both the statement and the question.

He glanced over his shoulder to gauge the distance to the men behind. Brok lowered his voice.

"It seems an honorable thing to defend the church," Brok said. A short pause followed.

"I want to be known for doing honorable things.

"Why did you come?"
 

Rämna Sisters

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Faith found herself smiling at his answer. It was a genuine smile, the kind one gets when pleasantly surprised.

"That is very noble of you. It is an honorable task we have been given." She let a gentle silence fall after his question to consider the answer. "I suppose I have come for a similar reason. I have a duty to help wherever I am needed, you see."

She, too, looked back at their group. Not all of them had come out of the goodness of their hearts. Not even most of them, she'd be willing to bet.

"Have you... do you attend a church at your home?" She hoped this question would not offend him.

The church was easy to get to, being visible from nearly every part of town. It didn't look too intimidating in the daylight, but the air around it felt... off. Faith could feel a weirdness to it, like the bond she held to the divine was reacting to something.
 
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Brock

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She wasn't laughing at him. Almost everyone who he explained his plans too laughed at him outright. Faith smiled, but it wasn't an unkind smirk. She seemed pleased with his answer.

The others were tying their horses outside the church's grounds. Brok couldn't hear what was being said but it sounded like Gelder was boasting about past deeds or perhaps what was coming.

"I do not, sorry," he said. Brok was worried this would undo the work of his previous answer. He told the truth. It was as simple as that.

He tilted his head to one side sharply.

"Something moves inside."

Two heavy wooden doors were shut tight. If they were barred on the other side it would take more people than they had to knock them down. The church itself looked as if could have held up to a small siege.
 

Rämna Sisters

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"Me neither, too much traveling," she replied, thinking it an odd thing for him to apologize for. "But the building isn't really what matters, is it?"

She went to tie her own horse by the others. It had behaved on their walk, but it had tried to pull a bit further away from Brok as they moved. She wouldn't need it here, anyway, best to put it somewhere safe.

"Be careful with that one, lass," came a gravely voice from a man beside her. He was short, with a long hooked nose and a coarse scraggle of a beard. He wore only leather armor and he, too, had a crossbow. Faith noted a great many knives about his person. Four on his belt, two strapped to his chest, one on each calf, and she saw at least one small hilt sticking out of a boot. "An orc in clothes is still an orc, n' they ain't known for being kind to pretty things like you."

Faith wrinkled her nose at his offending breath. "I can take care of myself."

She should have defended Brok, she thought as she returned to the church doors. Said something like "he's been kinder than any of you" or "at least he seems to bathe," but that wasn't her. She was trained to heal wounds... not prejudice.
 
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Brock

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Brok had not expected her to defend him. The fact that she didn't join in with the insults was nice. It was as good as he normally received. Brok had been shown kindness in his life, but not by many.

His mother had been a ranger. Returning from an expedition deep into the wilderness carrying an orc's child had been scandalous. His people were apparently quite wild, roaming the plains and never building homes. Brok had never even met a wild orc.

The orc marched up to the doors, grasping a handle in each hand. A flex of arms as thick as most human's thighs and they were flung open.

"Oh. It is just people. Hiding."

As Brok turned to look to the others, the dishevelled villagers turned to him. Their eyes were obsidian orbs, glassy and empty. Unnatural.

As he turned back two of them launched themselves onto him, bearing him to the ground.
 
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Rämna Sisters

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Faith was a few leaps behind Brok as he opened the doors, close enough to see the huddled shapes of people within. Her face creased in a frown of worry and compassion for them. Why were they hiding in here? Had they been harmed? She did not have time to think on it for long.

She made a noise of shock as two villagers tackled her massive companion. The people were dirty and moved in unnatural ways, and more were coming. A woman, with torn clothes and emaciated face, charged at her from the darkness. Her eyes... God, her eyes! The dark pits pulled her in and held her in a cold terror, and she stood frozen on the spot. The woman was almost upon her when a plume of red burst from her temple, and she slammed to the ground at Faith's feet.

Whipping her blood-spattered face to the side Faith saw the others coming, and the empty crossbow held up by Geldar. She heard the metal song of swords and saw more people fling themselves out of the church and onto the group.

"The people..." she said in a tremulous whimper, watching bedraggled villagers run like animals. "Don't kill them!" she yelled, blinking herself back to the present. "They're sick! We must help them!"
 

Brock

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Thump...thump...thump...

One of the villagers was grasping at his head, keeping his weight on Brok's chest to pin him. The other was striking his head over and over.

"Don't kill them!"

Even though he was having his ear stuck over and over, he just managed to hear Faith cry out.

Damnit, he thought. He managed to force one arm between himself and the villager holding him down. Grabbing the tunic, with one flex of his arm he tossed the man aside.

With both hands he shielded his face, absorbing the punches. Brok managed to roll away and get back onto all fours and then onto one knee. The man attacking him had eyes completely filled with inky black. There was no anger on his face. There was nothing on his face. Impassive as he reached for Brok.

Grabbing a hand, Brok yanked him forwards and dropped his chin to his chest. The crack of their heads colliding rang out.

Brok slowly pushed himself to his feet. One brow was split, blood pouring down his face but it was not as bad as he thought. Faced with a rush of maddened, dishevelled villagers not everyone was keeping their weapons sheathed.