Open Chronicles From Alliria to Heilige Stad

Tzuriel Alanthis

Merchant King Of Arethil
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175
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The loading grounds at the Allirian Alanthis Trade and Co. Warehouses were busy as workers bustle to and fro to load the supplies up into the wagons.
The Templar stronghold, Heilige Stad on the coast South West of Alliria, was finally rebuilding and had put in a massive order for tools, workers and building supplies.
Word of the attack on this holy fortress reached far and wide, but details of what had actually happened were sketchy. The tales ranged from a massive army of cultists slaughtering and violating the paladins and priests in their sleep to a brazen attack in daylight by two demonic children. The destruction of the walls and keep were extensive and their casualties innumerable. But now after all this time they finally had the courage to rebuild their stronghold, and Alanthis Trade and Co. was the chosen organization to bring them what they needed.

Five wagons laden with tools and supplies followed five wagons laden with carpenters and stone masons. Ten wagons in total with horses to pull them and the men to drive them.
Tzuriel acted as overseer of the loading process while he awaited the protectors of the caravan to arrive. The success of his trade company relied heavily on the contracts he held with the various guilds around Alliria including the Adventurers Guild and the Monster Hunters Guild.
Protection for ones caravans was a necessity even in such protected lands like those around Alliria.


Monster Hunters
 

Hahnah

Human Slayer
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25
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Vestof Stringin was a man with a particular specialty: the capture and transport of dangerous beasts, creatures, monsters. A certain amount of suicidal daring was necessary for this, and no shortage of meticulous planning as well. Most often he found work around Elbion--plenty of magically inclined clients there looking for interesting subjects for their benign or malevolent experiments--but today he would be alongside the Alanthis Trade and Co. caravan. Just so happened that they were heading to the same place: the Templar stronghold of Heilige Stad.

He'd brought his own wagon; not one of a canvas top but of hardwood and metal construction, much like a giant cage on wheels. Sturdy oxen were pulling it. Installed on both sides and the back door of the wagon were seats with high-powered crossbows mounted upon them and aimed in through the small barred windows. This particular wagon was insufficient for larger beasts, certainly, but for this journey's haul it would do just fine.

Vestof stood by the open back door of the cage wagon. Chewing coolly on a reed sticking out of his mouth as his men approached, four-man carrying a casket-sized box poked through with a few holes on a litter. They set the litter and the box down by the cage wagon.

"Easy now," Vestof instructed his hired muscle. "Thing killed some Templar. Don't let its size fool ya."

The four men took out tools and pulled out the nails to the lid of the box. Pushed the lid off. Inside lay Hahnah, a wide blindfold wrapped around her eyes and her wrists and ankles all tied together.

Vestof spit out the reed. "Slow. Grab it slow. And don't touch the 'fur.' It ain't fur--it's alive."

The four men did as instructed. Somewhat awkwardly picking her up and lifting her into the cage wagon. They inevitably did have to touch Hahnah's Living Armor, but they did so in a way that was slow and not overtly threatening--so nothing happened. One of the men who had crawled inside the cage wagon sat Hahnah down on her heels and secured her with the chains bolted along the interior. Once done, he crawled out.

Vestof stood outside the open back door of the cage wagon. Smirking with a triumphant smugness at his prize. He turned and spat and looked back and said, "I know you can talk."

Hahnah said nothing.

"What in the hell are you?"

Hahnah said nothing.

"Did you do it?"

Hahnah said nothing.

Vestof glanced back at his hired men and returned his gaze to the blindfolded creature. Said, "Nobody seems to know what happened at Heilige Stad for sure. Bet they'd be glad to stick all on you, though, them Templar. Chop off that head of yours. Earn back some prestige and renown for their Chapter. Got nothin' to say about that?"

Hahnah said nothing.

"Shame," Vestof said, then turned to walk away and perhaps meet with the man himself, Tzuriel Alanthis. Let him know he was ready and to render payment for taking him on with his caravan.

"Your sins have brought you to this."

Vestof stopped. Turned around. "What did you say?"

Hahnah sat on her heels. Bound in multiple ways and blindfolded. Her head slightly bowed. And she said, "You reek of the profane. Of profane things I am the cleanser. I will be your reckoning."

"How about you reckon your way out of those chains first."

"You will not arrive at Heilige Stad. I will kill you long before then."

Vestof snorted. "Big talk. What makes you so sure of that?"

Hahnah's mouth a straight line of deadly sincerity. "Because your gods will allow it to happen."

Vestof went a touch white. His mother and father were religious folk. Not him. Not that he thought. But somehow that statement burrowed to the core of his chest. He glanced back, not into the eyes of his hired men, and said, "Keep on eye on it. I'll need to speak with Mister Alanthis."

And he was off to do just that. Secretly comforted in the knowledge that there ought to be veteran adventurers and trained Monster Hunters coming along on the caravan.

Tzuriel Alanthis
 

alphabunny

Rou Stonewall
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Rou had on guard the entire trip, this was her first job as hired guard for Alanthis Trade and Co. She needed to keep her head about her, make a good impression and show her crew who she was and what she could do.

Rou had noticed that for most of the journey a separate party had been at their side. She did not ask questions, that wasn't her job yet she kept her bow at easy access just encase something went wrong.
Rou saw someone approaching Tzuriel and she was immediately on her toes, headed over to his side and stood at Tzuriels side.
 

Ánië Táralóm

High Councilor of The Order
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12
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Go forth...

…show me what has become of this world.

Show me what must be undone.

Unlike so many of her people, she had been afforded much freedom. Though twisted, and changed, her will was again given unto her. Much of herself remained, but deep within the recesses of her mind, the collective consciousness of the Soul Forge burned with His hate. It writhed and gnawed around the fringes of herself. It was a twisting dark, a raging storm - lingering just there on the horizon. And from it, the whispers always came... guiding her.


j̸̨̧̢̝͍͖̥͙̯̭͋́̆̓̈̈́̒̔́͝͠o̸̢̧̡̟̗͎͔̭͉̝̤͉̪̪͒̓͝ì̸̳͍̞̦̏͛ͅn̶̨̲͚̞̻̙̒͜͜ ̶̨̻̣̩̫̆̋̇̈͌̉̑̈̐̽͌̀͂͘t̶̢̡̧̨̛̳͚̲̭̘̙́̓̋͆̅̌̂͗̚͝h̶̗͚̟̩̻͓̺̒̽̄̀̉̑̆͗͗͑͌ę̶̨̼̫̠̤̀̋́̒̎͌̌m̵̝̱͔̣̲̘̝̝̻̺̠͆̄͂͐́̐̀̕
̶̡̡̺͉̼̞͙͇̪̩̖̺̭͛ű̷̧̪͉͒̽̓͂̕̚͝s̶͖̤̪͚̖̤̬͔̔̆e̸͖̅͆̊͛̓̄̏̄̃̓͗ ̷̝̓t̴͓̼̼̄́̆̚͘̚h̸̛̥͓̝͎͖̗̖̦̘́̌̂̽̂̇̀̾͌̊͗̕͠ͅe̷̼̞̪͋̿́̃ͅm̷̨̛̯̞̌͊̓̃̽̏̿́̚͝ͅ


So, with the caravan of the Alanthis Trade and Co. she had taken up companionship. She came to them as a lonely traveler, and hidden under a heavy hood of humble make she'd flashed a deceptive smile with the passing of treasures most precious and beautiful. A token, for the company and safety of a joined journey.

And though from her there seemed to radiate a subtle and wonderful light, within her the dark festered and spoke. And it drew her attention, whispered to her of something - someone - close by, something that too hunted the spirit of unrighteousness. A cleanser of the filth.




I̵͈̤̺̙̹͇̥͕̣̟̺̥͉͍̺̍͆͘̚͜ ̶̢̢͚̮̙̫͓̝̳̱̣̝͎̣̭̭̗̰̖͙̻̳͓͕͓̂̈́̈́̃́͂̍͂́̓̔̀͐͑̕͝ͅẁ̴̨̡̪͇̪͍̠̞͇̈́̉̅͋̄͐̒̃̿́̈̓͌̑̎͊͆͐̕͝a̸̡͙̬̝͍͕͚̼̾̈́̔͜n̷̢̨̨̹̩̙̘͓̭͇͕̪̝̱̙͔̳͍̰͓̰̯̹̥̜̆̍̒̇̈́̓̈́͐̐͋͗̿͗̄̓̕͝t̷̺̻̳̜̳͚̜̗͇͙͚̟͚̗̖͎̙̙̦̞̥͗̂́͒̆̿̾̆̈́̑̋̇͂̌̆̌̈́̐̆͂͜͝͠ ̵̧̛̣̪̦̠͙̪̘̙͚͎͈̮̩̊̽͌͂̉̑̅̏͆̉͌̆̿̿̀̇̂̿͑̉͘͘͜͝ͅį̶̧̛̛̩̰̯̺̫̟͕̭͉̖̮̱͕̙͒̈́̉̊̆̔̀̂̉̽̈́̒͛͆͋͋͘̕͘͝͠͝t̶̛̪͔̭̙̳͙̩̲͈̹̮͂̿͑̉̋̎́͂̑̒͌̊̆̾̉̀͗͂̌́̂̔̋̕



 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Golem
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The Golem sat on his armored draft horse, riding along the side of the caravan that was not facing the water as to serve as a deterrent or defense. He had been assigned as an escort in the outskirts of Alliria for this caravan. He was a little bitter about this assignment: there were many more assignments that he would have been better suited at, instead he was baby sitting some traders along a muck mire mile. On top of this, it was transparently clear that for a noble to make this happen there had to be some dirty coin and favors involved. None the less, he would carry out his duty.

As his horse trotted along side the caravan, it's shining steel mail clinking in synchronization with his rusted plates, he kept a watchful eye and ear on the swaying grasses. Though he could have sworn he heard a certain whispering on the wind, perhaps it was his over vigilance and lack of sleep toying with him... or perhaps not...
 

Tzuriel Alanthis

Merchant King Of Arethil
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Guards, a passenger, and guarded cargo. It seemed everybody who was assigned to this caravan had finally arrived though more catching up a little later wouldn't be turned away.
It was comforting that a monster hunter was coming along, expertise was always a necessity and some of even the most travel savvy people couldn't figure out how to deal with a monster.

Mister Vestof approached Tzuriel to conclude their business at the same time Rou Stonewall decided to pop up beside him. He gave her an appreciative nod before turning his attention to the monster hunter, they will help haul his creature for a pretty sum, though he had a few misgivings that he wanted Vestof's assurances on.
"Ah, Mister Vestof? I see you have your "cargo" all ready to go, but I wanted you to ease my mind on a few things.
I'm not worried about it escaping, but should that happen I want to know that my men will be safe. Can you guarantee this? If you can then I see no reason to hold you up any longer."


As the others arrived and the last of the cargo was loaded onto the wagons Tzuriel checked things off on his list. He shook hands with each one of the guards and those he hired to protect the caravan, giving them a good sum up front for on the road expenses and this included Rou Stonewall. He shook hands with her and gave her a purely platonic smile.
"You stay safe out there, even an easy trip like this will be a challenge. Keep everyone safe, alright?"

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
Ánië Táralóm
alphabunny
Hahnah
 

alphabunny

Rou Stonewall
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Rou and the rest of the crew bid Tzuriel goodbye, before he had the chance to leave them she took him by the arm and pulled him aside. She spoke in hushed tones.

"Tezzy, are you sure you can trust these people?" Rou glanced around, she was uneasy. "Something seems off."
 

Hahnah

Human Slayer
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25
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Vestof approached Mister Alanthis amid the busyness of the loading and preparations for the caravan inside the warehouses and outside of them. He had slipped a tobacco leaf into his mouth while en route, Vestof had. He didn't know how the dwarves out of Belgrath managed to make such a potent strain of tobacco, but damn was he glad for it.

He rendered his payment to the Merchant King. It was cutting into his profits for hauling the damn creature down to Heilige Stad, sure, but you couldn't put a price on peace of mind. Fucking bandits or raiders or even some other Monster Hunters or zealous Templars could all have potentially caused him a world of trouble if he'd decided to go it alone.

Speaking of peace of mind, Mister Alanthis voiced a concern of his own. Vestof listened to it, hands on his hips and serenely chewing on the tobacco leaf in his mouth. His confidence had coalesced back, now that he was out of his cargo's immediate presence.

Vestof leaned to one side and spat on the ground, his saliva having turned a shade of brown. Looked back to Tzuriel and said, "It's a monster, Mister Alanthis. Ain't no one's exactly safe if that thing gets out. But it won't get out. Watch by at least two men at all hours of the day and night, ice-magic-tipped crossbow bolts aimed at the thing at all times and from multiple angles. We caught it, me and my men--we can contain it. Something happens, it won't endanger you or yours. That thing'll be dead. You have my word on that."

Mister Alanthis was a busy man. But if he had a problem with Vestof's assurance, he'd surely let him know. So with that, Vestof turned and started to walk back toward his cage wagon.

* * * * *​

Hahnah did not like this place. She could not see any of it through the blindfold, but the stench of humans was overpowering. All of the noises--the clopping of hooves, the thuds of crates and wares being loaded, the murmur of conversations both near and distant--were grating to her ears, the constant din of them.

She needed to get out of here. Out of the chains. She did not know why the human men who had hunted her did not kill her when they had set upon her--it was what humans did. But they didn't. So there was still a chance.

She needed to get out of here. Her heart stung with fright, but she kept calm. She had to. This was like being locked in the Temple again. But this time it was different. This time she was aware of the Dying God, His presence. He was with her. Her heart stung with fright, yes, but it was also comforted by this.

She needed to get out. And she needed to kill them. They who had taken her captive.

Hahnah sat secured by the chains and the bindings inside the cage wagon. And she whispered quietly:

"Can You hear me?"

She could not clasp her hands in prayer, as was right--this would have to do.

"Can You hear me?"

How desperately she wanted an answer.

"Can You hear me?"

She'd merely the belief, the hope, that He could hear her. See her. That she had pleased Him enough so thus He would deliver the opportunity she needed to be free. And in this blooming hope she trusted wholeheartedly.

Tzuriel Alanthis alphabunny Ánië Táralóm Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Golem
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The Golem and his horse continued their watch, looking out over the fields and then back over the caravanners. When he looked over at the caravan his gaze would shift unto one of the covered coaches, and between the clanks of his and his horses plates and chain he could hear a faint whispering, a whispering that made his fingers twitch and his blood boil.

He considered what this covered cart was carrying: dark magic artifacts, terrible creatures, a wicked wizard... He hadn't the faintest what it might be, but he had a hunch that it wasn't good, and a proper watchman follows his hunches.

He began to ride faster in order to get an angle that might reveal what contents were within the coach, but the only angle he could get was a narrow slit between tied flaps that would open slightly as the coach lurched. He shifted his gaze between this and the grasses as to both watch for any unwelcome company and as to not invite concern from the caravanners.

He continued this behavior until he finally caught a glimpse of something other than shadow from within the covered cart, though he found none. This greatly annoyed him, but there were other ways to investigate the troublesome cargo without him having to deal with another caravan with red flags setting him on fire... and if he does get set on fire, he had to remember not to decapitate the driver this time.

He rode over beside the coaches driver before ordering in a deep, thrumming, monotone voice, "Attention: the Allirian Watch requires a notice of transaction of goods to ensure that all is in order." As he waited for the drivers response, he sat on his horse in the most authorities, calm, upright posture he could hold, though he was fully expecting a fireball to be sent flying at him.
 

Tzuriel Alanthis

Merchant King Of Arethil
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"Tezzy, are you sure you can trust these people?"
"Something seems off."
He rested his hand on her shoulder, his fake smile not dropping or changing in the least, "There are very few people that I DO trust in this world, Miss Stonewall. And you are among them. I trust that if anything does go wrong that you will be there to protect my interests to the best of your ability."
He gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze.

"It's a monster, Mister Alanthis. Ain't no one's exactly safe if that thing gets out. But it won't get out. Watched by at least two men at all hours of the day and night, ice-magic-tipped crossbow bolts aimed at the thing at all times and from multiple angles. We caught it, me and my men--we can contain it. Something happens, it won't endanger you or yours. That thing'll be dead. You have my word on that."
Tzuriel smiled patiently, "Yes, yes. I understand that the probability is low, but a one percent chance is never zero. What I am asking is what would be the scenario should the monster escape its cage? Can your men stop it from harming my people should it turn its attention away from you on the off chance? I'm sure you understand my caution, you've made extensive preparations but I'm always in the habit of taking it a step further."
He signed off on their contract and handed him the copy.
"I suppose I actually bring it up more for you to think about than for my own peace of mind. I'm confident in the measures I've taken to protect this caravan and I trust that you've kept the monster secure for this long and barring a catastrophe it wouldn't have a chance of escaping. But if anything DOES go wrong, I'll hold you and possibly your guild accountable for any life lost on account of our violent passenger."

Now that most of the business was concluded he gave the signal, the lead wagon clicked the reigns and the wagon train started moving out of Alliria and on the road that over the span of a week will lead them to Heilige Stad.
(NOW the carts can bump and all that jazz!)
Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
Hahnah
alphabunny
Ánië Táralóm

Tzuriel is now taking a back seat in the RP. He might come in once in a while to DM when necessary, but the rest of the trip is up to you guys!
There's a few towns and Inns along the way, so this isn't a survival story unless you all hit some REALLY bad luck!
 

alphabunny

Rou Stonewall
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Once the signal was given, Rou and the crew began moving. To say she was suspicious was an understatement. This journey was where she would prove her worth, especially to a group of males, as far as she saw there were no other women in the company. Rou mounted her whose and with a quick trot she caught up to Cauldwin Talson Valynyr.
She introduced herself, "Rou Stonewall. Please to make your aquintence. I sense your uneasy? I feel the same."
 

Hahnah

Human Slayer
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He did still have a problem with Vestof's assurance, Mister Alanthis did. Vestof just looked at him, swished the tobacco leaf in his mouth from one side to the other, as Tzuriel further voiced his concern. And Vestof didn't know how else to assuage the man's worry. What else could he say, other than giving his word that he and his men would kill the damn thing if in the minuscule chance it did break free? Rephrase it maybe. Moneymen sometimes liked to hear the same thing a few different ways before settling down.

Fortunately, Tzuriel didn't dwell on it. Just signed off on the contract and handed him the copy.

Vestof turned to the side again and spat. Touched the brim of his hat and tipped it slightly to Tzuriel. Said, "Won't have to worry about no life lost nor holding anyone accountable, Mister Alanthis. We'll kill that thing dead if it comes to it."

Vestof gave another slight tip of his hat to Rou Stonewall as well--another of Tzuriel's hire-ons. Now then, with business concluded, he could head back to the cage wagon. And not a moment too soon, seemed everything was set and ready to go. As he approached the cage wagon, Vestof circled two upward fingers when his men looked at him: saddle up, the gesture said.

Three of his men sat on the mounted seats on the sides and back of the cage wagon. Vestof and his fourth man sat on the driver's platform; the fourth man the driver, Vestof kicking back.

As the caravan started to roll from the Allirian warehouses, Vestof checked the packs and gear stowed behind the driver's platform. Son of a bitch, that pipe had to be in there somewhere...

* * * * *​

The smell of the city faded after the cage wagon had been moving for some time.

Hahnah could not see where they--the caravan--were. Even if she hadn't been forced to wear a blindfold, the three barred windows of the cage wagon all had crossbows aimed inside and men sitting behind them on mounted seats, obscuring much of the view.

She had stopped praying. Was quiet for a time between the departure from Alliria and the initial hours of the journey.

Then, inexplicably to the men keeping watch on her, she began to sing to herself. A song her elven caretakers would sometimes sing to her when she was smaller.

"♫ Softly does the wind blow
My, watch the time go
Down does the rain flow
My, watch the time go
I love you more than you know ♫"


The man sat on the mounted seat to her right side banged on the side wall of the cage wagon. "Hey."

Hahnah stopped.

"Shut up in there."

Hahnah turned her head. Unseeing eyes behind the blindfold glaring in his direction.

But she did not sing another verse.

* * * * *​

Vestof was sat back--almost lying down--on the driver's platform of the cage wagon, his legs crossed and the pipe (found the damn thing) in his mouth. He caught sight of that mountain of a man in the unsightly rusted armor ride up alongside the covered wagon ahead. Vestof muttered to himself some. Rou tried talking to the watchman, but Vestof was inclined to voice his opinion anyhow.

Vestof took the pipe out of his mouth and sat up some. To Cauldwin he called, "Hey. The fuck you yellin' at him for? You got some kind of problem, you take it up with Mister Alanthis. We ain't gotta show you shit."

Then Vestof lounged back again on the stowed gear and packs behind the driver's platform and took a puff on his pipe.

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr alphabunny Tzuriel Alanthis Ánië Táralóm
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Golem
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As another rider suddenly approached the Golem looked turned his head and lowered his eyes to see the woman who had approached him, she introduced herself as Rou Stonewall. In her speech was a certain softness that was rather alien to him, as he was unaccustomed to words that lacked a certain venom. She was polite for sure, if he had not been on duty he would have introduced himself as, well... himself. But he was on duty, so the persona of the Golem would remain his face. He responded in the same deep, monotone voice he always used as the Golem, "Salutations, I am the Golem of Alliria, seventh division, 'Unstoppables', of the Allirian watch. Inquiry: are you one of the caravan hires?"

Hahnah alphabunny Tzuriel Alanthis Ánië Táralóm
 

alphabunny

Rou Stonewall
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Inquiry: are you one of the caravan hires?"
Rou then turned back to Golem, "Actually yes," she smiled, why did he seem so uptight? Rou needed a friend or two if she was to make it through this trip without laying her fists into Vestof. "I have combat experience, I grew up in The Shallows you see." Rou pointed to her ear, "fighting was how I got this little knick over here. I know it isn't really part of the elven beauty standard but i'm proud." She shrugged her shoulders. "Here to protect Tezzy's goods, thats all."
 
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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Golem
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Rou then turned back to Golem, "Actually yes," she smiled, why did he seem so uptight? Rou needed a friend or two if she was to make it through this trip without laying her fists into Vestof. "I have combat experience, I grew up in The Shallows you see." Rou pointed to her ear, "fighting was how I got this little knick over here. I know it isn't really part of the elven beauty standard but i'm proud." She shrugged her shoulders. "Here to protect Tezzy's goods, thats all."
The Golem looked over the rider next to him for a moment, she was very warm and forthright. A nice change of pace from the bitter shades of the Arrack Slums, and one that he hoped she would keep. Cauldwin almost chuckled when she pointed at her ear, he wished he could remove his helm and show the plentiful scars from a lifetime of fighting. To swap some tales with the she-elf of battles and brawls, but sadly he wasn't here for fraternization. The golem only replied, "Understood."

The Golem then turned to driver of the covered coach that had not yet acquiesced to the orders of the Allirian Watch and ordered in a monotone voice that had a hint of threat, "Attention: balance book. Now."

alphabunny Hahnah Tzuriel Alanthis Ánië Táralóm
 

Tzuriel Alanthis

Merchant King Of Arethil
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175
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"Attention: the Allirian Watch requires a notice of transaction of goods to ensure that all is in order."
The middle-aged driver looked up at the imposing suit of armor making demands, though as an experienced caravan driver who's seen some real blasted hell scary situations just from what you meet on the road, he seemed fairly un-intimidated.
"Never heard o' the "Unstoppables" lad. I've made this run for more years than you've been alive an the Allirian Watch never gave a hoot before."

"Attention: balance book. Now."
The driver rolled his eyes, "Fine. If ye're going to get testy about it here ya go, but next time do yer homework before riding out on duty lad. The Alanthis Trade and Co. is th' biggest trade organization in Alliria, ye should be a bit more respectful of where yer wages come from."
He handed the reins to his companion while he unlocked a chest behind the seat and produced their books.
"Here's the blasted books, knock yerself out."
 

Hahnah

Human Slayer
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Vestof took the pipe out of his mouth and swatted the cage wagon driver's shoulder with the back of his other hand. Gestured toward Cauldwin with the stem of the pipe. Said, "Can you believe this lout? Can't be bothered to fix his damn armor and got the nerve to question an Alanthis Trade caravan. Allirian Watch, my ass. Fucking prick."

The driver gave a shake of his head in silent agreement with Vestof--his boss's--sentiment. He just watched the transpiring ahead between Cauldwin and the middle-aged driver and made no comment.

Vestof was about to put the pipe back in his mouth when another thought struck him. And gave three curt laughs, then leaned toward the cage wagon driver and whispered something in his ear. The cage wagon driver's shoulders hitched up as he, too, belted out a hearty laugh. Both of them wore condescending grins as they regarded Cauldwin conducting his business ahead. Vestof lounged back again with the pipe back in his mouth.

* * * * *​

Hahnah tilted her head back some. Slight and slow. Humans were not alarmed by movements that were slight and slow. And she heard no reaction from her minders sitting outside her cage.

The strands of her Living Armor, the "fur" which covered a portion of her body. They had been slowly coaxing at the bindings tying her wrists and ankles together, those strands on the bottom of her thighs and thus closest to said bindings. Perhaps she could likewise rid herself of the blindfold.

It would be best to wait. Wait and listen for the right moment. She wanted to kill her captors, but she also wanted to be free.

Wait.

For night to fall. For something loud to happen. But wait.

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr alphabunny Tzuriel Alanthis Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

High Councilor of The Order
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She was quiet, and rode alone in line between two of the wagons, somewhere near the middle. She kept herself hidden under her cloak, which was weathered and dark. Her horse too, was relatively unremarkable, and passive.

A single, dainty hand peeked from her sleeve, and held the reign loosely as she leisurely trotted along. All the while she listened, and hummed to herself a familiar tune that had fallen upon her ears, before it was rudely and abruptly halted.

A small smile slowly formed, and she continued to hum to herself.
 
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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Golem
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The Golem, without breaking his posture, took the leather-bound balance book. He quickly flipped through the pages looking for any discrepancies or suspicious purchases. To his surprise he found none; no contraband, no discrepancies, no suspicious purchases, not even a sign of forgery. Everything was on the up-and-up on paper. This was unfortunate because the older stage driver's cooperation and the lack of anything incriminating or suspicious on the balance book meant that he had no grounds within the watches protocol to search the wagon. Unfortunate, the Golem could not investigate what ever seemed to be messing with his senses.

The Golem closed the book and handed it back to the older gentlemen before responding simply, "Thank you for your cooperation.", before slowing the pace of his draft horses trot and breaking off a little ways to return to his position and continue to watch for any brigands or creatures that might be trouble for the caravan. Though his investigation had been deterred his suspicions of what troublesome item may be inside that wagon only grew.

Ánië Táralóm Esmeralda Sophia Le Roux Hahnah alphabunny Tzuriel Alanthis
 

Hahnah

Human Slayer
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That big rust bucket warrior backed off. Good, and damn right he did as well. This was another reason why Vestof joined up with a large caravan instead of going out on his own; sometimes the typical bandit and raider types weren't the only headaches.

Then Rou slowed up and came alongside the cage wagon and alongside Vestof. Asked her question. The two men sitting on the side-mounted seats of the cage wagon each cast her glances, but it was Vestof who answered.

"For bein' dangerous, that's what," he said, tilting his head back and blowing out some smoke that drifted away over the roof of the wagon. "Killed a Templar. So we're bringing it to Heilige Stad so they can kill it back. Fair is fair, right?"

Vestof let out a chuckle. He honestly didn't know if his captive monster killed a Templar or not, but that was the story relayed to him from his contractor. Thing was certainly vicious enough, if its talk was anything to go by--let alone the hell he went through capturing it in the first place.

But a monster was a monster. Only one thing to do with 'em. Thing oughta be glad Vestof found it instead of a more straightforward Monster Hunter. Got a few extra days out of life being transported here instead of killed outright.

* * * * *​

Hahnah heard someone new outside of the cage wagon. Not a man. A woman. Referencing her in a question.

She slowly leveled her head out again. Sat quietly on her heels inside of the cage wagon.

The time was not right.

Esmeralda Sophia Le Roux Ánië Táralóm Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr Tzuriel Alanthis
 

Hahnah

Human Slayer
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Vestof lazily rolled his head over to the side to regard Rou. The cage wagon tilted slightly with the undulations of an uneven section of the westward road, and Vestof's shoulders swayed lightly along with it.

He pointed with the stem of his pipe down and behind himself, toward one of the barred side windows of the cage wagon--wherein the creature was kept. He looked back to Rou. Said, "That thing ain't a citizen of Alliria, or Elbion, or nowhere. That thing ain't a person. So what you just said there, about that thing 'defending' itself..." Vestof shook his head, "...makes no sense. Might as well ask if demons are just 'defending' themselves."

Vestof chuckled. Looked forward again, ahead to the other wagons of the Alanthis caravan. Said further to Rou while gazing away, "I let that thing out of this cage and it'll defend your head right off of your pretty little neck."

He was struck by an idea. Voiced it by adding in a goading sort of way, "Go on then. Talk to it, if you don't wanna take my word for it. Tell my man on the seat there to crawl on off of it for a spell so you can get a good look at it through the window. You do that and you tell me what you think."

* * * * *​

Hahnah tried to tune her ear to the conversation just outside of the cage wagon. Most of it she could hear and understand. Not all of it.

With a quiet alertness she listened. This was not something that was new to her. At times in her lone wanderings she would approach the camp sites of elves in the Falwood. Hide behind trees or thick brush or under the crest of a hill. Simply listen to the elves talk to one another. Talk as friends and talk as family. She imagined, on occasion, being one of them. A silent, unseen companion. One of their number. In their company. As it had been with her caretakers. Save only that with them--her caretakers--she did not need to hide and pretend. She had been embraced openly by them. And though she was kept in secret in their remote rangers' lodge, this was enough.

Yes.

It had been enough.

And then even that was taken. By they who were profane.

alphabunny Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr Ánië Táralóm Tzuriel Alanthis
 

alphabunny

Rou Stonewall
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of your pretty little neck."
This man was a character. "Well at least I know you think I'm pretty." Rou smirked, she would have fun teasing him - no doubt about it.

Rou loved a challenge and she was most definitely intrigued by the creature, she took Vestof's offer.
She turned to one of his men, got off her horse. "Shove off then." She handed the man her mares reigns and took his place by the cage, she pierred inside.

What a magnificent creature. Rou was absolutely taken away when she saw the creature, "Do you have a name?" For the first time in years, Rou let her guard down. She knew how it felt to be misunderstood, mistreated. What if the creature really was an innocent? Misunderstood?
 
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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Golem
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From the Golem's position he could have sworn he could smell a certain decay in the swamp fields, unpleasant, but it could just be an animal carcass... or it could be a man.

Filled with paranoia, he rode his horse close to the fields before dismounting, grabbing his satchel filled with alchemical poultices, potions, and poisons from his armored draft horses' saddle bags, and began wading his way in towards the source of the cadaverous aroma. Every step the rusted goliath took sunk deep into the muck, flies and other insects became more numerous as he approached the source, until they were almost a mist. What he found was quite a sickening sight, even for a veteran watchman of Alliria.

Crucified in front of him was the greyish, bloated, bisected, and decapitated corpse of a human male. The body was stripped of any clothing and was nailed by the biceps and the stretched back tissue of the neck to a small birch (a tree that is not local flora to Alliria) that plunged into the swirling mud and blood swamp pool below. In its spread open chest cavity, was the victims head that lacked a jaw. Its arms, even in the stage of rigor mortis that it was, remained outstretched at the elbows, in a macabre waiting embrace.

Even though it was in the advanced bloated stage of decay (which given that things in the Allirian marshes tend decay quickly means that this couldn't have happened more than a day ago), the ritualistic carvings that were cut into every inch of the body, and cleaned of blood were the written scrit of the elvish, a tongue he could not speak, write, nor read. But even so, he knew what this was: a war totem: a warning to any human that comes across this to run or suffer the same fate. What the Golem wondered was: why here?

His thoughts were interrupted by the whispering, the same whispering as the one he had heard on the wind earlier, the words almost tangible now. His eye was drawn to the jawless head inside the chest cavity of the victim. Acting with will that was not his own, the rusted giant plunged his gauntleted hand into the cranial cavity of the victim's skull and plucked out an amulet.

It was a grey steel amulet, a grey steel amulet of old elvish craftsmanship, and in the center: a glowing orange crystal shaped like an eye. The Golem tried in vain to tear his gaze away from it, then the world was darkness, and against his commands Cauldwin's body could not move. Manifesting in front of him stood a gigantic, silver plated being of orange flame.

It pointed down at him with one of it's flaming hands, before speaking to him in a booming, dread inspiring voice, that was followed by a cacophony of repeating whispers after it, "YOU, MONKEY, YOU ARE STRONG FOR YOUR KIND. YOU WILL SERVE ME, YOU WILL RESCUE MY DEVOTED. THEN, YOU WILL DIE."

Every word this elvish deity spoke to Cauldwin forced him closer and closer to the ground in a servital kneeling position. In his dread, he prayed to his Celestial Gods, to the Warrior to grant him strength to see this battle through, none of his beloved Celestial Gods answered him, the beast within him did.

Cauldwin broke away from the deities control, and with yell that resembled more the guttural roar of bear, than the war cry of man, began to stand straight once again and reached for the hilt of his long-sword. As his hand was on its hilt. The world was as it was, save for the gruesome totem in font of him and the amulet in his hand. The totem was gone, but the amulet remained, save for the orange crystal that was now but a black stone.

The Golem discarded the amulet, tossing it as far into the Allirian mash as he could, and began a marching slog back to his horse. As he remounted the steed, he knew he needed to bring the situation at hand directly to the caravan master's attention and with a light kick to his horse and the pull of the reigns began a trot to this merchant king that he was yet to meet.

Ánië Táralóm Esmeralda Sophia Le Roux Hahnah alphabunny Tzuriel Alanthis