Knights of Anathaeum Lost and Found

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Character Biography
The air was crisp, a frozen breeze rattling the bones of leafless trees. The battle had been over, the retreat had been called. Syr Margot had not returned home. Time passed, had anyone noticed she had even been gone?

She couldn't even remember what happened, where she had been. Bare feet shuffled across frozen earth, the path home covered by powdery snow. She couldn't even feel the bite of cold on her bare skin.

She was barely covered, rags she didn't remember donning. Armorless, weaponless, her body numb, her mind blank. She didn't even shiver as the wind tore at her dirty, blood matted hair.

Her soft featured face, those kind eyes, they bore no expression now. Her body was covered in bruises, the bite of a whip could be seen on many places on her bared skin. She was close, she thought. She'd be there soon.

Blue eyes rolled to back of her head, her body finally collapsing in its duress. She fell into the trees, the soft flakes of snow that fell from the gray sky slowly covering her pale skin. There were no more thoughts, her body just willing the warmth of what sleep brought.
They had been out scouting for a week. And still, nothing.

No hide nor fair hair of their missing Dawn Knight, Margot. The leads of cultist hideouts where they thought she may have been sequestered to, had been decoys. Leading them down trails that garnered nothing but wasted time. Time Margot didn't have.

And despite the weather having committed to making their trek across the Valen Wilds a miserable one, Petra and her Dusk counterpart, Syr Vega, trudged ever onward. A sputtering hope somehow sustained between them. Hope that they would find her. Hope that would find her alive. Let alone sane and uncorrupted by that dark Scion touch. Petra was nauseous at the thought of what Margot may have endured. Norvyk's growl in her head mirrored her thoughts, for they would take every pound of flesh and more for what those cultists may have done to her. A wrathful storm was brewing in the elf's heart, encouraging her dragon to make haste from one clue to the next.

But as Petra sat before the meager campfire she had built for them that morning of the seventh day, she questioned where they would search now. Considering the last one had taken them to a barren hideout. Stripped of every morsel of evidence the cultists of the Everwatcher had been there.

All except a stained dais in the center. The blood on its altar long dry, holding a single note for whenever they eventually found it.

A delicate scrawl mocking them with a simple sentence: "Getting closer."

Margot Triss Castor Vega
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Castor looked across the fire and saw exhaustion writ into his companion's visage. He imagined she saw something very similar. There was a weariness in his limbs borne of frustration. Yes, the pair had trekked many spans over the last seven days but the mental toll could not be underestimated. It was always difficult to maintain momentum in a search when the odds pointed to finding a corpse instead of a live person. Castor had no personal connection to the missing knight but had come to call them all his brothers and sister over these last five years.

An unfamiliar desperation had clung to the Sworn. He did not want to return to the Monastery with news of a fallen sister.

"Let's give this damnable thing another try," grumbled Castor as he shifted his weight. The Sworn reached to the vials that rested at his side. He removed one and placed it on the cold earth before him. His fingers danced with practiced movement as he engraved a runic circle around the glass tube. Castor then got to his feet, grimoire in one hand and the other outstretched palm-open to the magic circle.

This would be the seventh time he'd attempted the spell in as many days. A simple tracking spell but with many limitations. Distance and age of the catalyst being the two most pertinent. The catalyst in this instance being what he believed to be Syr Triss' blood.

Words of power were spoken, influencing the hastily carved runes.

Crack. Twin trails of crimson rose from fracture and fell upon Castor's eyes, momentarily tinting their normal hue. Seconds of silence passed until revelation found him.

"To the east! If I'm not mistaken, she is not far from here."

It disturbed him that the sinister altar note was possibly proving to be true.

Margot Triss Petra Darthinian
They had packed up their camp as soon as they could. The Dawnling noted the storm that approached them from the north in the distance, the encroaching dark cloud an ominous presence.

Petra deferred to Vega's direction and relayed the information to Norvyk who had been flying in the west and was about 40 miles from where they were now. He would meet them as fast as his wings could carry him, for they did not know in what state they would find Margot.

Nor with whom. The song weaver thought grimly. Norvyk answered her anxiety with his own bloodlust that bubbled between them, licking his proverbial chops at the opportunity to hunt those that would do his rider harm. She felt his eagerness, his arrogance. For he thought himself the most terrible thing in the sky. A sentiment that Petra secretly prayed she would never have to test the merit of.

Bolstered that they finally had direction, Petra trekked through the light rain with a pep in her step, following in the Dusker's stead as he led them to the wayward Knight. An easy back and forth between the two. Something they had had to cultivate these long days spent in the Wilds.

A dark thought struck her in the middle of vaulting a log that befell their trail. Something that had lurked at the edge of her mind the entire mission, and now that Margot was the closest she had ever been, it needed to be addressed.

"Vega? When we find her. What if... she is not the same? Changed. Corrupted. Is there a kindness in putting down a rabid dog before it has gone mad."

Margot Triss Castor Vega
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The knight hesitated a step at the other's question, and then continued on as normal. Only the sounds of the forest could be heard between the two until finally Castor spoke. "Aye, it can be a mercy but not one easily borne. Doubt will ever gnaw even if the desire was expressed." His words held the weight of experience, of knowing. The world could be a brutal place even in the best of times.

"These are dark thoughts, Darthinian. Best to leave such things to us Duskers," added Castor in a lighter tone. Similar thoughts had crossed his mind, it was impossible to avoid considering what they'd seen these past seven days. He simply knew that they would serve no good at this point. They needed to find their companion first; everything else came after.

Suddenly the Sworn raised his hand, motioning for them to halt. Castor's vision had blurred crimson. He closed his eyes for five seconds, red vapor poured down his face as the spell dissipated.

"She's here," he said in an even tone.

All they had come to despair was possibly only a few feet away. It did not stop his legs from moving forward, until they finally brought him before the broken form of Syr Margot Triss.

"She's here."

This time his voice shook.

Margot Triss Petra Darthinian
His words set Petra's heart pounding in her chest as she sprinted towards Margot's broken form. Her breath hitched at the devastating sight of the crumpled knight, concern twisting her insides.

"Fuck, Vega!" Petra's voice cracked. Hastily dropping her pack to the frozen ground, she fumbled to extract a blanket from her bedroll, its fabric rustling in the biting wind. With swift motions, she cocooned Margot, the thin fabric both shield and shroud against the looming cold.

Lifting Margot until she was half sitting up in the elf's arms, Petra felt the weight of her oath-sister's limp body. Placing two fingers to the juncture under her jaw, she felt the flutterings of life against her touch.

She was still alive.

"Margot, wake up! Please, wake up!" Her pleas hung in the air, punctuated by gentle smacks on Margot's still face, each connection deepening the worried expression on Petra's brow.

Desperation clung to Petra as her frantic attempts to wake Margot proved futile. The knight remained unresponsive even as the temperature plummeted, each passing second stealing warmth from the world. Spare rain drops starting to hit the tops of her shoulders.

The Dawnling made a disgusted and frustrated noise in her throat and moved to lift Margot's body, cradling the injured warrior against her chest as she stood and faced Castor.

"We have to get her out of the cold before that thunderstorm hits us. If we leave now, we can fly ahead of it and find shelter." Petra explained to Vega, the words escaping in puffs of visible breath in the frigid air.

With a worried glare towards the looming clouds, she began sending images of their location to Norvyk through their mental link. However, before she could complete her message, an agonizing assault pierced her consciousness — a searing pain that wasn't her own, but Norvyk's.

"Ah!" Petra cried out, dropping to her knees, bowing her head as if to shield herself from the unseen assault. She barely kept Margot from tumbling out of her arms and into the snow.

Amidst the disorienting pain, a distant and hauntingly familiar roar echoed through the woods.

"Vega, Nor-Norvyk. He's been atta-" Petra's voice trembled with the pain; her words interrupted by another surge of agony that seemed to emanate from the dragon. Sweat beaded across her forehead as she strained to relay the dire message. "A-ttacked. He's hurt. I don't know what it was."

The Valen Wilds, already a realm of uncertainty and danger, now harbored a new threat, shrouded in the ominous echoes of Norvyk's pain. Petra's breaths quickened, her focus torn between the injured Margot and the distant roar that signaled an unseen menace lurking in the shadows of the storm.

Margot Triss Castor Vega
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Black. That was all she knew, a void of nothing propelling her endlessly. She tried to remember who and what she was, but the only thing that lingered was a burning desire. A desire for what though, even that eluded her. Her earth shook, her limbs were moved, she could feel skin against hers. She tried to call out, no sound came. She didn't even know if she had a mouth to shout with.

There was crackle of light that flashed in front of her. She reached for it, and felt a jolt when her fingertips graced it. She reached for it again, there was something or someone calling her. "I'm here." Her voice croaked to herself, the darkness slowly lifting.


Margot opened her bloodshot eyes as Petra nearly dropped her, she could feel the bite of cold against her skin again, numbing and burning every inch of her. Petra still held her, and as she turned towards Castor, a bloody smile crawled across her lips. "You should have let me die." She shuddered in the arms of her savior, not knowing what she said, not knowing the true implication of what she was doing.

Her vision blurred, her lips closing as she felt that inky black void threatening to drag her back. Glazed eyes began to shut, her body quaking as the cold ate away at her. "Petra." the last thing she would say before her body gave out once more, too thin and too cold to stay awake.

Petra Darthinian Castor Vega
Petra's frantic actions jarred Castor from his initial shock. Margot was alive, if only just. Fortunately his companion was quick to act and did what she could. Neither of them were healers which was looking to be a rather significant oversight on their part. Knights were trained in basic aid but a few bandages would hardly suffice. They needed to return to the Monastery with all haste.

"As you say," replied the Sworn without argument. "There's a clearing back the way we came, it's only-" The rest of Castor's words were drowned out by Petra's cry. He turned to see the other knight had fallen to her knees, yet not allowing Syr Triss' body to touch the ground. The Dusker swore; anything that gave a dragon problems didn't bode well for their fortunes.

Castor's mind raced towards possible solutions and then stopped, gaze fixated on the once unconscious knight.

The rapid shuffling of footsteps from behind left no time for questions. "That may still be in the cards..." he said with wry grin even as he drew his blade. A pair of cultists burst forth from the treeline. One had a flail and the other a pair of hatchets. Castor was already moving and caught the first in stride. His steel was swift and uncompromising. He pivoted and deflected the twin strikes, gauntlet hand lashing out in response. A sickening crack followed by a thud as the Sightless hit the ground.

"On your feet Darthinian! How am I supposed to tell that bloody lizard of yours we were late 'cause you had a headache?!" The muffled sounds of others approaching grew louder with each passing moment. Castor's earlier words may have seemed harsh but also held confidence in both Petra and Norvyk. They'd made it this far and Castor didn't have plans on dying easy.

Petra Darthinian Margot Triss
"Oh, fucking fabulous." She muttered under her breath while trying to ignore the throbbing dull pain that began blossoming at her temple, her worry for her dragon growing with it.

Cultists continued bleeding from the tree line and Petra looked down at Margo's unconscious face. "Sorry, darlin'. But you're going to have to sit tight until we're done." Her voice apologetic as she bent down and placed Margo back into the snow. Rolling up to her feet, Petra took her hammer in scaled hand, a thunderous expression on her face.

"Let's dance."

Advancing with feral intent, she met the down swing of a blade with the broad side of her hammer, sparks flying as she redeposited the end in the man's gut with a mighty swing. Lightning danced down her other hand and she shot a bolt into the shadows where three cultists emerged, their bodies now contorting in agony.

As she fought, the elf tried to catch at the flashes of Norvyk's vision that flitted through her mind. She took solace that she could at least feel her dragon still flying closer. But the fact that she wasn't getting a clear thought from him, just images of needle teeth, grey leathery wings, and black beady eyes made a sick feeling weigh in her chest.

Still more cultists emerged with blades drawn. They were trying to overwhelm them with numbers. But none of them seemed interested in going after Margo. Was she really just bait? If so, why go through all the this trouble to try and kill so few of them? The question troubled the Dawnling as she dodged a nasty dagger aimed at her side, snatching the man's wrist and holding him there as she smashed her hammer into his head.

She looked over at Castor and saw he was still holding his own well and called out, "We just need to hold off for a bit longer! He's almost here!"
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Ice blue eyes snapped open as the scuffle began in earnest. Body lay motionless in the snow for a few beats, then she raised herself from the frozen earth, as if she herself had risen from the dead. She saw nothing, felt nothing, but an angry snarl disfigured her lips. Fingers curled into hooks as cultists breeched the tree line, Petra and Castor their fixation.

With an inhuman howl she launched herself across the snow laden ground, latching onto the nearest cultist she could grab. She clawed and bit at him like a woman possessed, her eyes open and staring as she maimed with her body alone. Blood dripped from her mouth, staining her lips as nails dug and ripped at flesh. Even the bite of a returning dagger did little to deter the maddened thing that Margot had become.

Petra Darthinian Castor Vega
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