Knights of Anathaeum Light of the Day's Star

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Helena

Captain of Dawn
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Character Biography
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Mission: False Light
Priority: Critical
Rank: Pursuant
Operatives: Dejan Damir, Elinyra Derwinthir

Onjectives: Investigate rumors in Lanoline. If true, proceed to retrieve Syr Merrycourt. Do not wait for reinforcements.

Briefing: Reliable sources have claimed to sight one Dawn Sanctum, Pursuant of Life, Syr Merrycourt in the trading port town of Lanoline, North of the Monastery. Syr Merrycourt was believed killed in action by Sworn Knight of Dusk, Legault Demiex. Motives, unknown.

We have not had contact with Syr Merrycourt since the initial reports of her death. It was believed that the body recovered from the scene of the slaying was hers. We were wrong.

Proceed with extreme caution. It is believed the Sightless have infiltrated the town of Lanoline.

Verify the validity of Merrycourts fate. If possible, bring Merrycourt back to the monastery. Alive.

Good hunting,

Captain Helena of Dawn


 
"It appears our arrival was anticipated," stated the Pursuant with grunt.

Before the pair was arrayed a number of the Lidless. He had seen much in his life but their bottomless eyes remained unnerving. Dealing with those whom had properly lost their mind could often be far worse than a trained soldier. The latter could be predictable, but who could say with a servant of the Everwatcher. His simple years of peace at the Monastery seemed to be getting further away with each passing day. There was no regret in his thoughts, merely worry for the future of the Order. Few could truly comprehend the burden which weighed upon the veteran knight.

Dejan had therefore readily accepted this task to ascertain the truth about the fate of Syr Merrycourt. To have a fellow Pursuit of the Dawn back among their ranks would be a great boon. More, it would mean the return of a friend; a friend once thought dead. All manner of magik existed but none that could truly bring a person back hale and whole. Dejan could only pray to all the gods he believed in and even those he didn't, that this was not some foul trick.

"I shall entrust you with the two on the right," the Pursuant said he reached for the blade at his side. Dejan had not worked with the elf before but Syr Selene had vouched for her, and that was enough for him. The Everwatcher's minions may be many but the knight was not about to let go of his belief in others. Trust was gained through action, blighted or not, the druid had earned that right.


Elinyra Derwinthir
 
Elinyra glanced between the strangers who had accosted them on the hazy evening street. Wielding crude weapons - mostly daggers and staves - the druid might have considered them no more than brigands if not for the fact that a few of them were missing their eyes. She didn't know anything about this 'Sightless' cult aside from the information Syr Selene had shared before recommending her for this mission. Neither had she known Syr Merrycourt, but she still felt that she owed the Knights for potentially saving her life. And, she had to admit, there was a certain irresistible intrigue to the re-appearance of someone previously thought dead.

"For what purpose, I wonder," she mused quietly at Dejan's observation as she glanced around for other unexpected participants in this ambush. Apartments rose on either side of the street, inner lights barely visible through shuttered windows, doorways cast in shadows that attackers could easily hide in. A disadvantageous situation for them both.
I shall entrust you with the two on the right, the Pursuant said he reached for the blade at his side.

"Alright," she said and nocked an arrow, taking measure of her choices of target as she added to herself in a whisper, "Let us hope there are only two on the right."

Dejan Damir
 
Sensing the resolve of his companion, Dejan sprang into action. He knew all too well the disposition of these unfortunate servants. Many had been granted gifts of their forsaken patron. The sort that could see even of a knight of stature reeling within a moment. Fortunately Rulgak had seen that his armor was resistant to the Sightless' curses, at least to a certain extent. The old knight was not exactly keen on testing the efficacy of his new armor.

Thus he stepped to the side, avoiding the initial thrust of his opponent. Dejan struck with the pommel of his sword, catching the cultist in the face. He watched as the hooded figure stumbled backward but did not give them time to recover. Blade raised, he was quick to dispatch his initial foe. The Pursuant swiveled expecting to meet the attack of the other cultist but it never arrived.

Instead he heard murmuring from the alleyway. Dejan called upon the wyld as roots broke through street tile, blocking a wave of unholy miasma. Most fell to rot but the remaining shot forward and the knight was rewarded the cry of finality.

Blade in hand, Dejan turned to assist his companion if necessary.


Elinyra Derwinthir
 
The elf's first arrow found its mark in the chest of a cultist trying to cast a spell. His peer came rushing towards her, hoping to close the distance to the archer but finding his charge rewarded with the bow bashing into his face. Elinyra followed with a couple of kicks that sent him stumbling back far enough to finish him with another bow shot.

Plenty more where they had come from, it seemed. She turned as a couple more cultists emerged from an alleyway between two buildings, one of them brandishing a shortsword. She started to backtrack, seeking out a better position to attack at range, but faltered when a bright light suddenly burst across her vision.

Cursing, she ducked low to the ground in the hope that her adversary would aim high. The ruffling sound of a sleeve moving over her head told her she had been right. She kept rolling backwards and away from her unseen assailant, flinching at the impact of metal on her recently-purchased leather armor.

Dejan Damir
 
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Assistance was a luxury that Dejan could not immediately apply. He grunted as he a body crashed into his side. The damned cultist had forgone all sense of martial propriety. Dejan let go of his blade for a moment, eschewing his sword grip for that of the body before him. He grabbed the tunic of his foe and flung him bodily to the ground. His steel boot met the face of the unfortunate soul not moments later.

'Age means nought within His eternal sight!" cried the nearest cultist. Dejan shifted back and grabbed his blade from the alley floor. His blade flashed forward as he cut down the nearest cultist. The cries from behind indicated that his companion was carrying her weight. The Captain of the Dusk had not been remiss in her assessment.

Wyld magik surged within Dejan as he swept aside another hapless foe. Most had been dealt with at this point and only the two knights remained.

"As expected, your recommendation was not unwarranted." His words were harsh but his expression did not reflect.


Elinyra Derwinthir
 
Elinyra rolled again, sideways this time into a crouch before springing to her feet. She could just make out the blurry shadows of the pair of cultists as the spell's effect began to wane. A bulky shadow filled her sight as the nearest of them continued to push towards her, his blade reflecting the distant orange flames as he stabbed at her.

She parried one jab to the side with her bow. He brought his swordarm back to slash at the weapon itself, not realizing that the yew bow was more than it seemed and much sturdier than it looked. She tried to counter as she had with the previous cultist, but he took the opportunity to grab her arm with his free hand.

She'd hoped to not have to rely on that accused whip, but she wasn't keen on the prospect of grappling. He was much stronger than she was and one-hundred fold more intent on killing. With only a thought the vine burst out her hand, surprising her attacker enough to release her. The whip snapped out and wrapped around the hand holding his sword.

He dropped his weapon with a cry as the vicious thorns bit into his hand. Elinyra released the tension on the whip for a moment, letting the end drop from his hand before lashing it out horizontally before her, catching him across the face. He dropped to his knees, spitting blood and curses.

Elinyra left him with his lacerated hand covering a ruined and blackened face. In a smooth motion, the whip struck out again at the cultist who'd been standing behind him muttering some sort of spell. She could feel it beginning to cloud her mind and sabotage her senses, but the magic faded into nothing as the whip wrapped around his throat and choked the words from him. It was little effort to yank the surprised mage from his feet.

A couple of well-placed arrows finished them. A kinder end than that of the thorn whip, though she regretted having to kill them at all. She knew they would not have been so merciful to her.

Its task complete, the whip withered away into dust within the span of a few moments. Elinyra glanced around at the unexpected battlefield, seeing nothing. Yet she felt something in her awareness: hunger, resentment and fear, cowering in alleys and rubbish. Something older in this place than cultists. She kept that perception in the back of her mind as she turned to Dejan.

"What do you make of this?" she asked with a nod towards the dead cultists.

Dejan Damir
 
Dejan made no comment as to the elf's peculiar choice of weaponry. He sensed something akin to regret in her demeanor. The old knight knew well-enough to let such things lie. There were far more pressing matters for them at the moment in any case. A hosts of cultists had just attacked them without warning in the open.

I suppose we are at war. The Council had all but made that clear. He supposed it was only natural that they would act in such a fashion. Still, even for them this was incredibly bold. Committing atrocities in the middle of the forest was one thing, but a proper port town like Lanoline? Dejan hardly thought this boded well for what awaited them. However, it also suggested that there was something of import within the town.

He looked down at a dead cultist and then back to the druid. "Clearly the Sightless wish to dissuade us from investigating the town. That is already enough to merit our presence." The old knight paused for a moment as he looked around the darkened alleyways. "I'll admit that I did not expect such overt aggression. Whether it is related to our initial mission remains to be seen."

Once again the knight looked around, wondering at the lack of curiosity from any of the inhabitants. They had been on the outskirts of town but this was generally a bustling port. Dejan had frequented Lanoline on many occasions over the year. "There's an inn not far from here, The Skittish Skiff. They've often housed members of the Order. Hopefully we can learn something there."


Elinyra Derwinthir
 
"That sounds like a good starting point. Lead the way," Elinyra replied with a nod at the knight. Whether or not they found answers at the inn, at least they would not be out in the open like they were now.

The cobblestone streets remained eerily silent except for the distant baying of a dog. Lampposts set on the street corners seemed to have been mostly forgotten; some of them burned low while others had gone out, leaving patches of misty darkness to the mercy of fearful imaginings.

Elinyra couldn't help but feel paranoid here. She'd always considered cities to be dangerous places; the dangers of manmade mazes were always stranger to her than those of field, forest and mountain. Even so, she had never been attacked unprovoked inside the borders of a town before. This cult was not afraid of violence.

To the druid's relief, nothing else occurred on their way to the inn. It felt like a dagger had been withdrawn from her back as the two of them stepped through the doorframe into the safety of The Skittish Skiff.

Perhaps safety wasn't the right word, but Elinyra saw nothing out of the ordinary at first glance. Ship parts and nautical paraphernalia decorated the upper sections of unpainted walls. A few tough-looking sailors sat silently nursing beers at the shoddy bar. Dim oil lamps and a smoldering hearth cast a gloomy ambience on the scene.

A broad-shouldered older woman dressed in a faded, many-patched apron was tending to her few customers. She looked up as Dejan and Elinyra entered.

"What kin I get'cha?" she called across the bar to them with a throaty accent and a lop-sided smile.

Dejan Damir
 
The old knight allowed himself to relax somewhat as the two finally stepped within the confines of the Skiff. He wondered if it was a blessing that they were not attacked again, or if instead something more sinister awaited them. The warmth of the hearth did however make for a welcome change. The inn wasn't bustling with merriment but that was to be expected. Most who came to the Skiff simply sought silence from the chaos of their lives. A few rugged sailors cast the large knight a quick glance but returned to their tankards.

"Ale for me, and a meal if you've still got something left." He cast a glance towards the elf, sure that she would make her own order. Dejan scanned the current patrons once more to see if they were drawing any undue attention. Satisfied for the moment, he made his way towards one of the available tables. The Pursuant casually removed the sword sheathed on his back, letting it rest beside him as he sat down.

Dejan took a moment to properly process all that transpired since they'd arrived at Lanoline. The Sightless had grown bold, almost to an obscene extent. Clearly they were not worried about consequences, or believed there would be none. This was ever the problem when dealing with cultists, their zeal often defied conventional logic. "Considering that the cult is now aware of our presence, it will be difficult to move with proper subtlety." It was still unclear whether they had been waiting for the Anathaeum specifically or just any who sought to encroach upon their new territory.

His attention returned to his companion, who still very much remained an unknown to Dejan. "We are not likely to receive any support should we proceed..." The knight did not explicitly ask the question but the implication of his words were clear. To proceed was to court near-unfathomable danger.


Elinyra Derwinthir
 
"Wine - semi-sweet, preferably, and a meal for me as well," Elinyra told the innkeeper before taking a seat at a table with Dejan, her bow, quiver and pack set carefully nearby in case she needed them.

Again some extra perception shuffled timidly into the corners of her mind. She recognized the feeling as one similar to when druids telepathically communed with animals. She turned her attention towards it this time in an attempt to get a feel for its cause and was met with a barrage of faint scents - fresh blood, sewage, burning oil. Raw emotions followed: fear, distrust and the steely determination of survival. A message, primal and simple in its translation: watching you.

"Hmmm..." she considered aloud, resting her chin against tented arms while Dejan spoke of how difficult it would be to press forward. Elinyra had her doubts that going back was even an option, considering how they'd already had targets painted on them.

"I doubt that I will be much help in making that decision. Warfare and covert operations are not within my sphere of knowledge," she admitted. "Though, spirits willing, I may be able to lend my talents in other ways. Allies can be found in the most unusual places, should one know how to look for them. Allies that I doubt these cultists would expect."

A bold assumption on her part, she knew, but the best course of action she could think of against an enemy that held such an advantage. The tenured knight undoubtedly had a better grasp of military strategy than she did, so she would have to place her trust in his experience. Just as he'd have to trust that she would watch his back and lend her own strengths for the sake of their survival - and perhaps that of Syr Merrycourt.

Dejan Damir
 
"It appears any knowledge of covert operations would've been wasted in any case," mused the old knight with a grunt. His companion did not seem deterred and that was more than enough for Dejan. Tactics had some value here but this was not an open battlefield. There were no armies arrayed before them. No, instead they fought against an ever-present but unseen iniquity. Dejan knew what they needed more than anything in these situations was an unflappable mettle. Young Helena had undoubtedly taken this into account by assigning the two of them. "That is certainly a heartening thought, for we seem rather short on allies as of late."

He supposed his words were overly bleak. They had forged a number of strong partnerships in the recent years. The Order had also seen an influx of talented recruits, a golden generation which had not been seen for decades. At the same time, those who once provided aid were no longer anywhere to be found. Whether through purposeful avoidance or more sadly, no longer being able to render assistance. Many had fallen. Too many to count.

The innkeeper arrived not moments later with their drinks and meals. As she set the plates down, Dejan saw his opportunity to make an inquiry before she could shuffle off. "Town seems a bit grim since I was last here." His tone was casual, but he kept his voice low.

"Aye it is at that. Strange folk started showin up not ten moons ago. Been makin' business all kinds of difficult. Thank the Winds they don' want nothing to do with this place."

Dejan gave a rather pointed look at Elinyra and then back to the other woman. "Would you happen to know any places that they do have something to do with?" The Pursuant's expression remained relaxed even as the innkeeper eyed their weapons hesitantly. She leaned in, gaze shifting conspiratorially. "Yer with that order ain'tcha?" She paused in one final moment of consideration. "'Been gatherin round old Wyann's warehouse, you know the one down near the docks. That 'an Boghan's tailor shop at the end of Main." A shrug and she was off.


The knight let out a heavy sigh. "Neither will be simple. The warehouse should prove easier to infiltrate but it's likely our foes will be plentiful. Our other option has its own dangers. There will be no room for subtlety should we seek to investigate the tailor's shop." As it often was, there were no good choices. "Your thoughts?"



Elinyra Derwinthir
 
Elinyra shifted restlessly in her chair, her gaze drifting to the tavern's door as if distracted from their conversation.

"Before I answer that, would you give me a few moments?" It turned out to be mostly a rhetorical question, as she was already on the move. First to the bar, where she made a quiet and peculiar request of the innkeeper:

"Ye want.. raw meat?" her gruff voice carried through the establishment. The elf only nodded and put some coins on the counter. The innkeeper grunted and made a sour face, but took the payment and disappeared past a dirty curtain behind the bar.

She returned a minute later with a plate filled with various pieces of stew meat and bones. Glancing evenly at Dejan over the offerings, she said,

"Feel free to join me, but please leave your weapon if you do. I believe it might antagonize them."

The druid cast the bits of meat into the street outside the inn and took a few steps back. Kneeling in silence, she waited.

Guttural growls emerged from the mist. Still the druid remained relaxed, unmoving. A pair of eyes caught the light from one of the nearby lampposts, and behind them lumbered a grizzled mongrel. Its tattered ears still stood tall, though both bore the scars of a hard existence. Hackles raised, its muzzle creased, teeth bared at the humanoid before it. Three or four other stray dogs followed, keeping back a few paces like a squad of weary fighters waiting for the next enemy to strike.

Elinyra kept her gaze on the first dog, the alpha of the pack. She felt his intense distrust of her - of all two-legged creatures that were the source of pain and evil in their world. She watched as he put his nose down and warily approached her offering. Hunger eventually overtook caution, and the alpha bit into one of the morsels. At first it seemed that he would simply run away, but his brown eyes stared at her.

For long moments, there was nothing but silence between them. The other dogs waited, looking at their leader as if waiting for a consensus to be reached. At last, an understanding reached, they all stepped forward to bite into the humble banquet set before them.

Elinyra stood and went to find Dejan.

"I have found some volunteers to scout for us. They seem to know the lay of the town very well, and the cultists are their enemies as much as they are ours. If we stay here, they will get back to us on the enemy's position and numbers before we make our move. I just need a quiet space to maintain a connection with them."

Dejan Damir
 
Dejan pushed aside his trepidation upon seeing the plate of raw meat and ominous mention of 'them'. He stood and made to follow Elinyra. The elf had already earned the old knight's trust. Fighting together against maddened cultists had a way of forging bonds. Whether this trust was mutual remained to be seen. Yet the druid had decided to stay, and that was more than enough as far as Dejan was concerned.

He left his weapons as instructed but paused just once before exiting the inn. The knight looked back at the few patrons present and then back to his swords. Dejan did not sense any malice but he figured it best to dissuade any who may have had thoughts at petty thievery. He doubted there would be any takers. The old knight could be rather imposing, even when he did not wish to be.

Though he did not kneel, Dejan made sure to maintain a respectful distance. He could tell that his companion was attempting to parlay with other creatures. Dejan's own experiences taught him that keeping calm was paramount in such negotiations. The Wyld knight watched with interest as the meeting proceeded. This was one area for which he had little talent. To understand the trees was one thing, but a thinking creature was another matter altogether.

"Our vanguard grows." His tone held hints of amusement but layered with respect. They were woefully outnumbered in their current predicament, any ally was a welcome one at this point. "That should not be a problem," he added as they stepped back into the Skiff. It only took a few more moments for Dejan to acquire a pair of rooms as there were unsurprisingly many vacancies. He was not one to take a warm meal and somewhat-soft bed for granted.

The veteran knight knew all too well that this small respite may prove invaluable in the hours to come.


Elinyra Derwinthir
 
The Warehouse

The stench of labor permeated the warehouses lining the riverside of Lanoline. Men, and some women, worked day and night in separate shifts, moving goods in and out of the buildings, as ships sailed downriver from Bhathairk and up from the Spine.

To a regular passerby, nothing looked unusual about Wyann's warehouse. A few late night dock workers milled about outside, sprawled in chairs around a table, on break until the next shipment arrived. They chatted amongst themselves, hearty peals of laughter rising up into the night air every now and then.

To a dog, though, especially a wary one such as the dusty brown stray that sniffed around nearby, the place would reek of fear, and harsh metal tools, and death. Candles inside burned with the unclean crackle of animal fat. Shadows of men moved along the wall in places where there should be crates and barrels of goods. The sound of metal scraping on metal echoed through the walls of the second floor.

And a line of blood trickled between the boards of the walkway behind the warehouse, dripping down support beams and into the muddy Wyd below.


Boghan's Tailor Shop


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There was one other thing that made the tailor's shop strategically disadvantagous. It was in a tree. Ancient, sprawling oaks were not unfamiliar features in towns across the Valen. Blackened by age and rain, the branches of this tree sprawled across the sky like veins, with nary a bloom nor leaf to interrupt the jagged cracks. Nested haphazardly at its center was an entire house. It had once belonged to an eccentric lord of Lanoline, and when that lord had gone bankrupt, it fell into the hands of one Mr. Boghan, merchant and tailor.

A woman stood on the porch of the house, scowling down at the dirty streets below. She had a narrow face, a stern expression, and a pitted scar where her left eye should be. Boghan stood behind her. A slender man in black and gold finery.

"The order of eyepatches will take some time," Boghan said to the woman. He was holding a ledger, running a finger through various items and numbers. Two dozen each of gloves, bindings, winter hoods, and aprons. Three bolts of sack cloth. Needles. Which had to be ordered from the smithy down the street - Boghan did not have enough spares lying around to fill the request. "Couple of weeks, maybe."

"Will it affect the other... article?"

"No, we're on schedule with that. The pieces mended well, no scarring, and the seams are holding. She'll be ready to wear in another night. Don't worry so much."

The frown on the woman's face deepened. She watched as a stray snuffled around in the trash heap of a nearby alley. "You can't get the eyepatches in any sooner?"

Boghan took on a defensive posture. "They're specialty items."


Elinyra Derwinthir Dejan Damir
 
Elinyra gave Dejan a nod, glad for his acceptance of their unusual scouts. An uneasy alliance, but she hoped a fruitful one.

Dejan generously paid for their rooms and retired for the night. Elinyra felt the call of slumber herself, but not without first seeing what exactly was hiding in the shadows of Lanoline.

Once she had removed the constricting layer of hardened leather armor, she settled cross-legged on her room's narrow bed - stuffed with a musty mixture of straw, aromatic bedstraw and cattail fluff.

She closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, and tried to relax. To get anything more than brief flashes of an animal's sensory world, she would have to concentrate to the exclusion of her own surroundings. Reminding herself that a well-armed friend was only down the hall, she allowed herself to fall into a meditative trance.

It took time for the visions from her temporary companions to solidify. Her eyes snapped open, their normal green irises shifting to brown and her pupils shrinking and becoming subtly more canine.

He was hanging around the warehouse. She could smell the full depth of the odors around, hear the scraping of boots on wood planking and harsh metal grating as if she was there. Immediately she had an eerie feeling of being watched; a thought she attributed to the instinctual paranoia of a survivor in a hostile world.

The dog did not like this place. He approached the building with extreme caution, having the same gut feeling as the elf bonded to him: something terrible was happening here, concealed only barely by a facade of enterprise. Elinyra gently encouraged him to follow the scent of blood that became stronger near the back of the structure.

A metallic tang crossed her tongue when he tasted the dripping trail. She winced subconsciously in disgust. She didn't want to know where it had come from... But he knew it well. It was no swine nor fowl that had been butchered here. Elinyra shuddered.

The dog came around the back of the building in a measured gait, muscles tensed to react to the slightest hint of danger. Careful as he was, he still uttered a deep growl in surprise when he met two men in the alleyway who were carrying a third.

"...outta here!" One of them growled back and threw a half-hearted kick in the stray's direction. "Stupid fucking..."

"....smell is attracting pests..." The second grumbled. It took a moment for Elinyra to translate what they said; animals couldn't usually understand spoken words, only inflection and tone. Eventually the string of sounds formed snatches of distinguishable phrases among the gibberish.

The dog wanted no fight here, especially without the support of his pack. As he turned to flee, Elinyra saw something that jarred her out of her trance and severed her connection with him.

She couldn't tell if the third man had been dead or unconscious, but his hair was matted with the same blood that seeped down his face. His eyes had been removed, the sockets sewn together with coarse stitches.

Elinyra trembled in terror and anger as she tried to still her breaths and root herself against the wave of nausea in her stomach. She gripped the thin blanket beneath her until her knuckles turned white. What kind of charismatic false prophet, what imaginary dark god could make people do this to one another? To themselves? Why eyes?

She leaned back on the smooth wooden wall the bed was set against and steadied herself. She still had to check in with the black-and-white female who had gone to scout the tailor's shop.

----------

It turned out that she was much more interested in a pile of old rubbish that smelled strongly of cats than the conversation taking place in the bizarre tree house, but Elinyra managed to catch bits of the words spoken among the babble the dog heard. Eyepatches. Weeks. Needles. Smithy.

Elinyra persuaded the dog to wander more meaningfully around the trunk of the tree, but they found little good news about it aside from it being an odorous information exchange point for the city dogs.

It seemed the only approach point was a set of narrow stairs that had been half-built around, and half-carved into the ancient tree. That or a very long climb up a rope, which Dejan wouldn't be able to manage with his injury and Elinyra couldn't manage even with an extra arm.

She sent the dog a telepathic feeling of a soft pat on the head for a job well done before releasing the bond. She would report her findings to her comrade in the morning. He was likely asleep by now, and she also needed some rest - if she could sleep after seeing the victim of such a cruel defilement. And that feeling, that artifact of the alpha dog's paranoia, that lingered in her mind like a warning.

The next day, she told Dejan of what she had seen and heard.

"I believe we may have a better chance of getting into the warehouse undiscovered. Perhaps we could blend in with the workers?"

Dejan Damir The Everwatcher
 
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The old knight did not immediately seek sleep, tired as he was. He knew that Elinrya would be maintaining her connection with the animals. Such states of focus left one vulnerable to outside influences. Dejan extended the reach of his mana but stopped at his companion's door. It would have been rather impolite to pry any farther, and likely distracting as well. Instead he removed his gauntlet and placed his bare palm on the inn's wooden floor. Wyld magik coursed through the planks and up into the hallway walls. There on either side did Dejan ingrain two defensive wards for those with hostile intent. He allowed himself thirty minutes of wariness before finally deciding to retire for the night.

-----

Upon reconvening the next morning, Dejan paid careful attention to the elf's report. It was immediately clear that the innkeeper's information had been accurate. The revelation came with an equal measure of assurance and regret; Lanoline was truly a nest for the Sightless. He found himself impressed at just how effective the scouting of these street dogs had been. His mind was already considering the various opportunities they afforded. Dejan reminded himself to keep to task. One mission at a time.

He considered his companion's suggestion but did make any commitments initially, opting to first work through his own thoughts. "Even with the few precious pieces that you were able to gather, it would seem those with the most useful information are currently at the tailor's shop." A sigh followed. "Infiltration is nigh impossible and an open assault would be suicide." He knew the elf was already well-aware of these facts, but the knight often found it helpful to talk through the realities nonetheless. "As to your suggestion of infiltrating the warehouse. I do not doubt your ability to make your way undetected, I am not likely to be as fortunate."

Dejan was not exactly the sort to blend into a crowd. The combination of both his size and missing arm made him recognizable. More importantly, this was not his first run-in with the cult. His likeness was known among the Sightless due to his part in dispatching the Prelate, a lieutenant of the Everwatcher. "I think you are right in saying we should target the warehouse. If our true targets remain up in their perch, we simply need to give them reason to come down..." The knight continued to muse. "I imagine a disruption at their warehouse would be cause for concern."

The nature of said distraction still remained to be seen. Dejan paused, giving the elf an opportunity to provide her opinion.


Elinyra Derwinthir
 
Elinyra stood quietly for long moments, considering Dejan's words - the beginnings of a plan, perhaps. She just wasn't completely sure she understood his intent.

"Then you mean for one of us to create a diversion at the warehouse so the other can get into the tailor's shop? I would normally say that is risky - but we both know that goes without saying here. Did you have any particular distraction in mind?"

The dogs wouldn't help them with this, and she wouldn't ask them to risk their lives more than they already had. She doubted any beast would be willing to risk a run-in with the citizens of this town. She couldn't even be sure if the spirits would interfere in a disagreement between mortal races. No, she had a feeling this was purely up to them.

Dejan Damir
 
"Precisely." The old knight sighed. "Admittedly it is not recommended to split our forces with such small numbers but we have little choice." There were only bad choices, as was often the case for a Knight Anathaeum. Dejan conceded he had not faced such lopsided odds in some time. Even his encounter with the cult in the woods did not feel so dire. Daunting to say the least, but the fate of Syr Merrycourt hung in the balance. What they discovered could have a profound affect on the morale of the Order as a whole.

Thus he turned his mind back to the task at hand. Dejan weighed their options, taking into considering his own skills as well as what he knew of Elinyra's. Once again, each approach held significant risk. "I have a few ideas. More than anything it needs to be on a scale disruptive enough to catch the attention of those at the tailor's shop." Dejan gave a resigned shrug. "My magik happens to be well-suited for such a task." Dejan wasn't fond of being the center of attention to an entire cult of madness, but it wouldn't be the first time.

He looked to the elf. "I know not how much time I can buy you but it wont be long." Assuming everything went to plan that is. "Even so, it's unlikely that they will leave the tailor's shop completely unguarded..."



Elinyra Derwinthir
 
"I will make good use of whatever time you can give me. I don't think a guard or two will prove a problem," Elinyra assured him; especially if they didn't see her coming or going, which was her intent.

It seemed a solid plan, albeit one where many things could go wrong at any moment. One false step, and she'd find out more than she ever wanted to know about this cult. She steeled herself against such a possibility, focusing instead on her curiosity regarding what sort of magic Dejan had that could produce such results.

"I will make my way towards the area around the tailor's shop as soon as you are ready - tonight, I presume, then I will wait until this 'distraction' occurs and see what I can find. Is there anything else I should know before go I prepare?"

She might be able to convince one of the strays to part with valuable information regarding local hiding places and safe areas where the cult's influence didn't reach. She expected she'd need it if - or more realistically when - she needed to flee.

She'd wait for Dejan to explain whatever aspects of his plan were necessary, then spend what time she had preparing for the dangers to come.

Dejan Damir
 
"I know not yet what the form of the distraction shall be, but you will not be unaware." The old knight had a few ideas in mind but would need to see the area for himself before making any final decision. He still wasn't entirely comfortable with this approach but their options were limited. The fate of Syr Merrycourt was of great import to entire Order as well as Dejan himself. Members of the Anathaeum hardly expected to die a peaceful death, but betrayal was another matter. This had been a deed most foul, and it hung heavy on many of Dejan's peers. Regardless of whether Syr Merrycourt was actually still alive or not, this matter cried for resolution.

He was about to let the elf go but had one final thing to say. "We came to ascertain the fate of Syr Merrycourt, not join her. Keep your wits about you." To have another die in her place is certainly not something the other knight would have wanted. It was the duty of the living to continue to do so. With that, he left Elinyra to her preparations as Dejan went about his own.

Near an hour later the Pursuant found himself at the docks where the warehouse was located. Dejan fortunately managed to avoid any cultists on his way, not an easy feat. A man of his size wasn't well-suited for subterfuge but knowing how to move about quietly was another matter. Avoiding unwanted attention was a skill that could be learned just like anything else.

Dejan looked to the warehouse and then back to a particular ship. Various figures were unloading cargo from the vessel, which was rather considering it was the dead of night. He had little doubt that this ship was related to whatever the cult was doing in Lanoline. A small smile crossed the Pursuant's face as an idea came to mind. "The Wyld exists above the ground, and also below the sea." He knelt down and placed his palm on the port's street. The knight began to channel immense mana through him and deeper into the earth, to the seafloor itself. It was there that he found the underwater flora he sought. He infused the plant-life with greater magik and urged it to rise from its place. Like a Kraken's tentacles, the flora crawled up the side of the ship, onto the deck, and wrapped itself around the vessel's double masts. Dejan focused every ounce of his being and sent one final violent, invigorating pulse of wyld magik into the spell.

An almighty crack resounded through the port and all of Lanoline as the ship's twin masts snapped. The panicked cries of the cultists followed, only to be drowned out by the sound of the crashing of the wooden poles.

The old knight was slow to rise to his feet, even as he sensed the presence of multiple people around him. Using such powerful magicks was not something likely to go unnoticed. Even so, he stepped confidently into the open.

A snarl. "You! You're the Crippled Bear."

Dejan drew his blade. "Aye, that I am."



Bebin Theros Elinyra Derwinthir
 
  • Dwarf
Reactions: The Everwatcher
A hooded figure bled out from the inky mass of shadow, which clung to the bricks, those that circled about the Crippled Bear, blind to the figure that snaked from the darkness. The sight of their minds, blurred and constricted by a pressure that kept the Pursuant's vision narrow. Focused. One man fell. The sceond saw his arms cease their function. Felt the cold kiss of steel's edge run across their necks.

Blood sprayed. A man gargled, struggled for breath. A twist of the wrist. Pull of one hand, counter pull of the the other. Bones of the spine snapped. Life drained quickly from the body that fell to the ground.

A blade came free of its sheath.

One man rushed the Crippled Bear head on. Another came from his left flank. Thick fingered hands snatched the clothes of the flanker, heaved with a low grunt. The flanker fell to the ground with a crash, a dagger blade flashed. The curved blade sunk into the bone and flesh of the flanker's chest with a hard pop.

One man still pressed against the Crippled Bear, another man emerged from the dockside, crawled over the wall and aimed toward Dejan.

Dejan Damir
 
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The seas responded to the inquiry of the Wyld Pursuant. They answered with twisting wet mass, streamers of browns and greens causing the bow of the cargo ship to creak and bend. The masts snapped, the ship rocked in the bay and sailors and dock workers shouted out their alarm as the aftermath of the destruction became evident.

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At the same time, a shadow picked off men even as they poured out of the dockside warehouse and surrounded the Bear. They fought, and fell, and more still grabbed clubs and hooks and raised them against the knight. Then, a ripple in the sea of violence stilled the cultists. They fell back, and let one through.

Chains rattled. Two flickers of flame swung rhythmically as a blindfolded woman stepped foward. She wore the fine furs and gilded chains of a march lord.

"The Damir's dog," spoke the woman in a husky, feminine voice. She smiled. Burn marks lined each cheek, scars streaming down her face as tears might. One hand flicked round quickly, and the chain she held twisted in the air, flaming spike at the end sparking orange through the blue night sky.

She stepped forward, still smirking. "Fancy seeing you here."

Dejan Damir Bebin Theros
 
Dejan clove the charging cultist from collar to navel. They were the first of many, and yet oddly, the Pursuant was not overrun. Were he not fending for his life, the older knight may have sensed a familiar presence. A cloaked hand that guided him from the shadows. Alas, the Sightless were unrelenting and were not keen to give their foe a moment of rest. Thus did the Pursuant of Anatheum continue to fight, each subsequent moment buying his companion precious time. There was no stronger catalyst for Dejan to hold his ground; a bear, an oak, a knight.

...then suddenly, silence. Chaos abated, instead revealing a greater iniquity. Dejan did not immediately recognize the woman but her presence was significant, a farcry from the undistinguished mindless minions. "Even a dog has better sense than to join His side, Lady Min." Many years had passed since he last saw the march lord. In those days she was just another noble's daughter, deprived of any opportunity to display her talents. He'd seen himself in her but she found his advice unwelcome, mistaking his sincerity for simple pity.

"Should I congratulate you on your succession?"

A wicked grin was all he got in response. They both knew her ascendancy as the head of house had not come cleanly. Twin censers danced calmly under her control, leaving swathes of smoke in their wake. Dejan tightened the grip on his blade as he suddenly sensed the invocation of magik. He found his gaze drawn to the seemingly unnatural haze. Slowly it began to coalesce until finally taking on a familiar form, that of Lady Min. Dejan grunted as he the full triple-threat came in form.

"Find the other," she ordered calmly as her dopplers stepped towards the old knight.


Bebin Theros The Everwatcher
 
  • Cthuulove
Reactions: The Everwatcher
Swirls of smoke smiled as the trails of incense bled easy from the censers in their rhythmic swing. The dopplers moved in synchronized unison. Mirrors of each other as they pressed the Crippled Bear. Lady Lin, their conductor.

Like a ripple of water across the pool of so many eyes, the shadow bent and shift. An arrow spat out from the illusory curtain. Caught one cultist in the chest. Knocked them to the ground. The shadow flowed. Strange and thin as the mob of Sightless transfixed themselves toward the line of fire. The dull twang of bowstring. The twift through the air. Hemmed one man in the strings of their tendons.

"Fan out!"

"Circle round, circle round!" One of the cultists cried out. His eyes still in his skull, his skin marked by circuits of scars and runes alike. Bands that clamped about the natural bone of his being. And made it more. His eyes glowed blue. And blue runes glowed about the temples of those Sightless that raced and stumble about.

A third shot. A fourth.

Another cultist pinned, but the rabble remained six strong. Pinpointed toward a shimmering well at the center of their circle.