Fate - First Reply On Ancient Crimes and Modern Consequences

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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Butcher of Alliria
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An old ruined cabin in the Falwood. As the tale goes: long ago a toymaker dwelled in this place, but he grew bored with creating his inanimate dolls and stuffed creatures... so he began to experiment with weaving in to his creations the essence of life. Children went missing, hundreds over the years. Their souls would be used in the experimental creation of living dolls, flying furs, and abominations of wooden limbs, porcelain, and cloth. The elven militant of the time would track the source and destroy all they found, leaving it not but a wreck, and the land it was raised on would forever be considered cursed.

Exaggeration on an old tale perhaps, but there is no denning the sinister air of this place. Worse, aspiring treasure seekers have come to try and discover the art of 'life weaving'. It is time to put an end to this cursed place once and for all...

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Cauldwin had been working for the elves of the Falwood for half a year now. Hunting their monsters, cutting down their brigands, and removing the sources of the undead. His reputation had grown here, resulting in the granting of a traditional name upon him: Dy'vus Luno (Agony Watcher). A name doubtless of double meaning, for he both brought and witnessed agony with his gaze, and was a form of guardian, a watcher, perhaps the knife-ears pitied his unnatural state of existence. It was irrelevant. Now they had sent him to handle this situation, something they may have been loath to handle themselves, or simply trusted he would have it done. Other outsiders were deep in Falwood, attempting to uncover a form of dark witchery. Normally, he had no interest in whatever mystical nonsense fools with too much ambition and too little wit would seek. However, they had wounded and killed members of a group of elven rangers. Something that could only be answered in kind. To avoid tensions with neighboring lands or further casualties it was best that he be the one to hunt them.

He was set on this task about a day ago, now. It was mid-day, a little after noon. The sun flickered between the gaps in the canopy of tall oaks, illuminating the lush greenery and his surroundings. His rusted iron plates, and newly shined mail beneath rustled with his every step. The light breeze caused the hooded white-brown fur cloak he now wore to lift and flutter. He approached the overgrown, partially dilapidated ruin. There was signs of makeshift habitation and disturbance from the outside, but none of the treasure hunters could be seen. They were likely hiding. Cauldwin drew his black hilted, barbed greatblade in his right hand. The long and well maintained blade gleamed in the sunlight, providing some light in the shaded dark ruin.
 

Samara Asenta

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"Please tell me you weren't trying to sneak up on them."

An Elven ear preceded the sharp nose and angular features as a female of the species turned her head to peer around the trunk of a nearby tree. This specimen had a pale, dark skin of a Dark Elven bloodline. Stark blue eyes still shone with so little light filtering through the canopy above. One fixed on the animate statue of metal that had trekked so far and not succumb to exhaustion from that alone.

Samara could only imagine whoever or whatever wore that armor must be exceptionally strong. A dangerous foe if they turned their attention toward her in a sinister light. Then again, the same could be said of her though her physique, while muscular, was not quite so imposing as the golem before her. Her own attire was made of black leather with a red under shirt with a short sword at her hip.

This person's timing could have been worse, though it could also have been better. This region was shaded by the old growth around them, which sheltered Samara from the brunt of the sun's tyranny. Enough she could function, but t'were it later in the evening and his intrusion not sending the treasure hunters scurrying about this could have gone far smoother -- for Samara, anyway.

"Why are you here?" Samara was a free-agent that roamed the world at her leisure learning what should could. Her time back home had taught her much, but the further she ventured the more it seemed her education had been lacking. Certainly when it came to her own demon-or-vampiric plight; the exact nature of which she was scarcely closer to understanding.

Obviously this person would not prove to be an easy snack should the urge take Samara. Muscular and bound by iron; an imposing sight for many fiends no doubt.

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 
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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Butcher of Alliria
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"Please tell me you weren't trying to sneak up on them."

Cauldwin quickly turned on his heel, to face the womanly creature. Their was a sinister air to her, something familiarly wrong with the she-elf. Perhaps another vampiric monstrosity that seemed to be everywhere in the realm. Or perhaps she was simply a drowidic half-breed of some kind. In any case, he regarded her with a strong air of suspicion. "I do not sneak.", he replied in a calm, stern, deep, guttural voice that echoed a metallic pranging from his helm.

"Why are you here?"

She inquired as to why he was here, "I'm going to assume you are local to the Falwood? As for me, all you need know is that I am a watchman, investigations are simply my vocation." he said as he turned and ducked into the building. Inside it was more or less ramshackle, however, there were freshly dried blood in locations of the first floor of the building. There was three toed claw marks and torn bloodied fabric. It appeared someone or something had beaten him to his quarry. He suspected the odd elf creature. He exited the ruin before speaking, "Let's drop the façade, you aren't a mere knife-ear, are ye?"

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Samara Asenta

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Didn't sneak. Good. It was always sad when you came across a hunter wearing so much metal and they claimed to be stealthy. Short of having a very powerful mage on hand, nothing less than a solid spell made armor like his quiet. An enchantress or a world-class blacksmith might suffice as well, in certain cases.

Samara's head rolled a bit to the side as she listened to the man's words. No point correcting him, especially seeing how no time was offered to do so. Insightful learning his vocation, however. An investigator. Sent here by some third party aware of the treasure hunters prowling these lands, perhaps.

Only a few seconds passed before the tower of iron poked its helm out into the wilds once more. "What façade? You speak as if I tried to present myself as something other than I am. And you should be more careful who you call a knife-ear, tin man." Admittedly, the pejorative confused her when Samara first heard it some time ago. Another of Elven blood enlightened her that some used it to refer to their kind. One of countless lessons she'd learned of the wider world.

A soft exhalation followed. "My name is Samara. I came here hoping those corpses would dabble in dark magic, be consumed by it, and allow me to drain it of its power." The Elven woman shrugged. "Seems someone felt like making a meal of them instead. Care to hunt them down with me? Seeing how your investigation isn't over." The man might have been there for the corpses, but now something had taken them surely he'd want to identify who and why. At least that was her hope.

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Butcher of Alliria
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Cauldwin stood upright with his his blade point down towards the ground, his still intact hand on the pommel. Though never a knight, he had leaned that posture is an excellent weapon in a battle of wit and tongue. A certain unspoken confidence and noble authority that it held, an ironic contrast to the state of his armor.

"What façade? You speak as if I tried to present myself as something other than I am. And you should be more careful who you call a knife-ear, tin man."

"A lie of omission is still a form of deception. The corpses within suggest you may be something less than you seem...", he sparred back.

A soft exhalation followed. "My name is Samara. I came here hoping those corpses would dabble in dark magic, be consumed by it, and allow me to drain it of its power." The Elven woman shrugged. "Seems someone felt like making a meal of them instead. Care to hunt them down with me? Seeing how your investigation isn't over."

Cauldwin cocked his head to the side and retorted incredulously, "'...drain it of its power'? You are correct that my investigation is far from over but do you really think you can just pull a fa-" ,he stopped as he heard quiet scampering quickly closing on his position. He quickly entered a high guard stance and turned, closing fast was a blurred thing of approximately five limbs, each ended with a tarnished metallic hoe-head, doubtless matching the marks on the building. The center mass of the creature was covered with a light-sun dyed fabric.

He had about a half-second to move, he dove and rolled to right as the creature gave a quick small jittering leap at where he was standing. He stabbed his blade into the dirt and threw off his cloak, which would fully reveal to Samara, the jagged vambrace in place of his left hand. The creature jittered and stamped around obviously trying to re-orient itself, revealing the five, long, three jointed wooden beams it possessed as arms. This
thing was clearly of an unnatural origin.

Cauldwin did not speak, he closed this distance with the creature at an unnerving speed and grappled a lim. The creature quickly struck out with another one of of its limbs, but the three pronged metallic claw was unable to penetrate his thick iron plates and steel-chain. It scraped down his front breastplate and he took this moment to grapple the limb in the same bind as well. The creature confused and or panicked attempted to break away with its three other limbs, Cauldwin would simply lift the creature and then slam it down, splintering one of the limbs he had grappled and breaking the third digit on the other.
As it scuttled back with a limp, Cauldwin called out to the shady she-elf, his false inflection of authority now replaced with his Allirian accent, "Now that I'm convinced ye' aint responsible, aye, wouldn't mind ye'r aid!"

Samara Asenta

 
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Samara's lips thinned while she continued to lounge with her back against the tree trunk. The Tin Man certainly knew how to talk to women, didn't he? Just belittle the 'fairer' sex into submission it seemed. It only made her contemplate how best to peel that armor back to sink her fangs into him all the more. Treat him with the same courteous respect he'd shown her in thinking of him as a sizeable snack for the road.

Bring him to me. I could use a new statue for my palace.

And She would comment. What fiend liked being called less than a mortal? Samara knew She thought Herself far greater than any living creature born of the world. Naturally Her ego was appropriately sized to match.

Bright blue eyes failed to bat an eye as the man found her response unsatisfactory. If he hoped to chide her into confessing it'd take a bit more than that. Not that they'd have time to find out how charitable Samara felt like being. Her knife ear twitched at the same sound that'd caught Cauldwin's.

The Elf pushed away from the trunk as her hand dropped to the sword at her hip. Well polished and honed, Samara stood ready with the blade for the monster as it assailed the Man of Metal she'd been conversing with. A strange construct was visible when it recovered from a failed strike. Five, wooden limbs ending in metal points. Not the sort of beast she'd come to expect in haunting this place.

A snort followed Cauldwin's declaration. At least he was reasonable in recognizing if she had been responsible that she would have attacked while he was otherwise distracted. They could discuss other matters later when a monster wasn't prepared to tear them apart.

Like the Metal Man, Samara's feet left the ground and carried her across the ground faster than she should be capable. Her other hand drew the whip located on her right hip as she leaped into the fray. A sharp crack sounded as the whip's tip trapped about one of the limbs, her boot pressed down upon another, and then the sound of a lumberjack's ax sinking into wooden flesh shot through the trees. Another limb fell to the leaf-covered ground cleanly severed by her blade.

Her momentum carried her though a flip over the creature as its remaining, functional limb swept inward in an effort to catch the Elf. Once her feet hit the ground, Samara pulled on the whip causing the leather to creak under the strain.

Scarcely a second passed before the construct rolled over backward causing the tension to evaporate and removing the entanglement of limb and torso. It righted itself immediately and swept at her face and leg. Samara stepped back and leaned away from the strike. A quick flick of the wrist drew the whip's length behind her once more.

It leaped high and back using one of its appendages to catch the ruined wall nearby. It landed a perch momentarily to observe the two figures that had relieved it of two arms already. A wounded animal was the most fierce, and the construct's behavior kept Samara from rushing in after it.

"Another limb and I might be able to draw out the dark magic animating it," Samara announced for Cauldwin's benefit. Assuming it was dark magic. Seemed unlikely a spirit of Nature would sully itself with metal for hands, but such spirits weren't always of their right mind.

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Butcher of Alliria
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The super-elven reflexes and agility of the she-elf, momentarily caught him off guard. The certain wicked grace of her nigh flawless form and figure, as well as her acrobatic prowess and more than normal strength was frankly mesmerizing. In combination with the skilled and dexterous usage of her unorthodox weapon of choice, he watched dumbfounded for a moment, not unlike a child in circus. It appeared he was correct in this creature being less than simply elven. The only odd thing being that clearly when push came to shove: she had no issue flaunting her unnatural powers. Odd that she would even bother attempting to conceal her true nature... unless she had doubts she could take him so easily.

Whatever her true motivation, selfish empowerment, survival, or some grander purpose, they had common cause for the time being. The last limb of creature so frantically slashing in direction, she had issue closing with the abominable construct. Cauldwin shaking off his short memorization, quickly closed on the creature. As it attempted to bring down its final limb onto him he caught it. Held it in the fold of his right arm and forced the metallic hinge that was the creature's joint to bend in the opposite direction. Needing to fully neutralize the creature and partially feeling a little competitive, he put his boot down on the connected limb. With a mighty display of his brute strength, the metal hinge buckled and broke.

He threw the limb down at his side, and raised his intact hand in a halting gesture, "Wait. We may never have another chance to see the inner workings of such a thing again. Allow me to carry out its sentence with vivisection." Of course he didn't wait for the she-elf's response, he pulled out a skinning knife from his belt, if she cared to examine his loadout, notably there would be its sheath, his greatblades' sheath, a large coin purse, a large satchel, a small alchemical satchel, and finally a few slots with potions on his belt. The knife of note, was made from the jaw of some form of dog-like creature, one edge of the knife having some of the teeth, the other sharpened to a razor with a small protrusion near the tip used for unzipping flesh.

If she possessed the ability to sense things of shadowmancy, she would know immediately the unique choice of dagger had a weak form of enchantment on it belonging to the profaned school of magic. He quickly unzipped the blue sun dyed fabric, and from within a slightly luminescent green mist would rise out and dissipate. Leaving not but the cloth and the wooden boards tied together beneath. Cauldwin had seen such an occurrence before, a bound soul being released. He stepped off the misbegotten creature.

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Samara threw her hand out to the side and circled it while Cauldwin worked. A winding motion to draw the length of her whip in until its tip landed in the palm of her hand. When it was obvious the man was getting the upper hand, she affixed the whip back to her hip. The sword stayed out in case her new friend decided once the threat had passed that she was now the threat. Fortunately, that didn't happen.

"Wait," Samara snapped as the Metal Man drew out his blade to release the bound soul. The Elf's dark lips remained peeled back in the short time it took Cauldwin to work. Had it been nightfall he might have gotten an eyeful more of Samara's hidden nature; but at the coming height of the day the fangs were the most that surfaced. It took something truly enraging to draw out more while the sun was out.

Once Samara had loved basking in the sun, and traipsing through the lush green of the forests. Now the dull ache and stabbing pains in her mind as the light seared the backs of her eyes was beginning to change her thoughts on how beautiful the world was fully lit. After all, she could see perfectly well in the dark. There was a shocking beauty to the world so eclipsed. A slow appreciation for it had likewise begun to emerge.

A sharp hiss followed before Samara's lips pressed closed once more. She slammed her sword back into its stealth as the soul vanished from sight. "When I drain such a creature its body is usually left intact. What's more, it spares others from an unexpected visit later." There was other purpose to it, but the Elven woman didn't go around sharing it to everyone on the road. In fact, she preferred not to dwell on the matter at all, if it could be helped. "Unless there are more, or I find the one responsible, such may be another's fate now."

Slowly the pale-dark skinned Elf strode toward the fallen husk and Cauldwin. "You seem comfortable wielding a dark magic of your own," Samara remarked at last about the man's dagger. Once a strong caster in her own right left bereft of such power, her eye for its presence remained.

"Are you here hunting pillaging fools, or in search of the foul magic behind this creature?" It would be good to know Cauldwin's true intentions, if he deign to share them. Seeing how he sported such a weapon, Samara had freely alluded to her nature. It was possible, however, the man was a Hunter of Monsters; in which case despite his use of such a weapon the man might still turn on her.

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

The Butcher of Alliria
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Cauldwin gave the construct a quick kick, just to make sure it stayed dead. As he sheathed the dagger he heard the womanly creature approach...

"When I drain such a creature its body is usually left intact. What's more, it spares others from an unexpected visit later." There was other purpose to it, but the Elven woman didn't go around sharing it to everyone on the road. In fact, she preferred not to dwell on the matter at all, if it could be helped. "Unless there are more, or I find the one responsible, such may be another's fate now."

He gave a small sideways nod before responding, with a mildly somber tone, "You should try to have a bit more compassion for the wandering dead. Being displaced from the land of the living and the veil is a fate I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies..." He readjusted his posture and tone back to the upright commanding state, "Besides, if the tales are to be believed that might have been the soul of a wee knife-ear child." He then began to walk over to his greatblade and fur cloak.

Slowly the pale-dark skinned Elf strode toward the fallen husk and Cauldwin. "You seem comfortable wielding a dark magic of your own," Samara remarked at last about the man's dagger. Once a strong caster in her own right left bereft of such power, her eye for its presence remained.

This caught him somewhat off guard. Cauldwin was not aware of the dark magic that clinged to the dagger, he was however keenly aware that his resurrection by the Stríðsfaðir (or Warfather in Wiir) had somewhat unchained the dark in his being, his svalen. The very concept that this creature could sense that within him (or at least the believed prospect that she did) unnerved him greatly. He stopped with a jolt at her mention of his wielding, but immediately continued on to retrieve his belongings.

He plucked his blade from the dirt and held the hilt in the gap between his damaged arm and chest, Cauldwin was now carefully examined the creature who was in front of him, so much so that even in the bright light the small glowing green dot in the caverns in his helm may yet be visible, just as her fangs became visible to him. What gave her away the most to him however wasn't the fangs, or the deathly complexion... it was the fear in her eyes as the light eclipsed her. He retorted methodically to her observation, "Ho? Do I? I wasn't aware it was so prevalent in me." He said, wiping the dirt from gleaming blade with the leathered glove beneath his mailed gauntlet, before giving the sword a dexterous twirl and sheathing in back in its scabbard.

"Are you here hunting pillaging fools, or in search of the foul magic behind this creature?" It would be good to know Cauldwin's true intentions, if he deign to share them.

He bent down to pick up the white and brown fur cloak, before flinging it back over his shoulders, "Both. It seems one of my primary objectives is complete. I assume the same is true for you? Even though you are very clearly a night-walker? I can see it your eyes you know... that fear of the light that haunts all of your kind." He walked towards her, he very much considered cleaving a potential threat down here and now. However, she had done no harm upon him, be it because she wouldn't or she couldn't. He was aware that his animosity towards her kind came more from the vampiric dame who had double crossed him at his most desperate hour and led to his death. Perhaps he could at least give this creature, this she-elf the chance to prove her righteousness.

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"My greatest concern is with the living," Samara replied calmly to Cauldwin's suggestion she be more compassionate.

A slight turn of the head then followed the man's retort about his person. Not even an attempt to refute the thought, even if he'd taken it further than she'd intended.

Ice blue eyes stared at the Tin Man that slowly stalked toward her. She had stood up to beasts in the wild, and now wandered the world on her own now as one of those prowling the shadows. If it came down to it, she fought rather than fled. Cauldwin would not find this She-Elf contemplating her escape. "Then you may need your eye checked. I have no fear of the light. Though, I no longer find basking in it as pleasant as I once did." Samara turned her head aside and stuck her hand in a thin ray of sunlight that beamed down through the canopy above. A lone brow was raised if the man was satisfied she wouldn't suddenly combust.

One thing she never told anyone was what her real weaknesses were. It was enough for traveling companions to know she wasn't utterly useless during the daytime. Not completely, anyway. Long as it didn't get too hot.

"I am Samara. I was made into some manner of 'Vampire' by a monster and now roam the lands seeking a means of survival." It seemed prudent for her not to linger anywhere in case so fed from the wrong person or attracted too much attention otherwise. "And you, Tin Man? I am not opposed to fighting at your side to end the evil that plagues this forest, if you are not." Perhaps they had some things in common. He seemed to know she was no normal Elf, and had yet to strike; it was a beginning.

To see just how far his temprament on this matter would go, the Elf added, "I will not kill the innocent, if that fear gnaws at you. Though I would ask -- if it came to it -- that you not cut me down because I do feed. They will live; unless I am forced to go without too long."

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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Suffice to say, Cauldwin had some serious misgivings about working with vampires of any mutation or creed. Trust had proven quite the dagger in his spine of recent times. Yet, this vampire claims to be bound to a similar sense of duty. Commendable. There were two terms that needed to be made apparent to Serrana, Semarra, Samara? It would take time to get the name down.

Firstly, he needed to rectify this way of address, if they were to work as compatriots. They could not just address each other as "Night-walker" and "Tin-man". Though it would be a wonderful a circus act, that being between the two of them there was half of a circuses attractions. Secondly, he would not tolerate to unwilling feeding on the innocent in his presence, "Very well Samara, I could use one with your... unique prowess, in the noble endeavors of Lawbringing. As for your sustenance, it should be said I WILL NOT tolerate any feeding on the innocent. Find one who is willing or feast on the guilty."

He considered if he should giver her his real name, he trusted no one in these trying times, and given that he was spreading in tales as a dark spirit hunting the wicked, he didn't want to give a name to that kind of fable status. He often used monikers: Golem, Lawdog, Watcher, and Damocles (when he was feeling a tad theatrical). If she proved trustworthy enough she may receive his true name, but honestly it didn't seem likely. Deciding on what to address him as he went with what the elves had taken to calling him, "As much as you flatter me with the pet name 'Tin-man', my name is Dy'vus Luno. You may call me Dye if that is too long."

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Lawbringing? It was a foreign term brought to bear on the matter, and yet said aloud it made a certain sense. Why else had they hunted the monsters in the region around her home? They sought to bring peace to the land and its inhabitants -- impose a certain Law upon that land to build a world of their choosing. Even so, being a creature now easily put to the sword under certain laws, it was not so easy to wear the label as one did a woolen cloak. It brought no peace to her as it was meant to the land. Was it just? Should she be put down as a monster?

Samara stared at Dy'vus for a second before she replied with a shrug, "Very well. Dy'vus it is unless the enemy tries to take your head; then Dye will do. And I won't feed on the unwilling innocent. Toward that end, might I know what you consider the guilty?" She lifted a hand with a small smile. "I am no devil. There's no need for wordsmithing. I merely need to understand where your moral compass points."

After all, it wouldn't very much matter who was innocent or guilty in Dy'vus' eyes. Were Samara's will entirely her own unaffected by that which made her, his stipulation would be followed freely. Her will was not her own, however.

If they are not willing, we will make them willing.

There was a 'unique' quality to this Vampire the man had not seen. One that would cause strife should such 'coerced' consumption occur.

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr
 

Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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Cauldwin was rather bemused by that response, for one so inquisitive she asked nothing on the meaning of the name. He had found that the name's gruesome or melancholy meaning often gave those who spoke the elven tongue pause. Though it was possible he was just being presumptuous, being elven didn't mean she spoke that tongue or the particular dialect. "Walk and talk with me, its a bit to explain..." he said as he, began to walk past her and beckoned her to follow in the direction of the dilapidated old building.

There were many aspects of his vassalage to the Stríðsfaðir, the loose code of Lawbringing was one of the odd terms of his resurrection, though one that given his past life as a watchman of Alliria he was well accustomed to. It wasn't overly complicated though at times easy to fail: in principle it is judgement on others for their actions. What the being is was irrelevant. It followed rules from most civilized societies: murder, theft, and trespass were a crime. Criminals were sentenceable at his discretion. The unorthodox an somewhat objectionable aspects however were his duties that greatly impacted the Stríðsfaðir's sphere. Peacekeeping (that was essentially killing things that would disrupt a present balance in the land be they good or evil), closing wounds in reality that lead back to the Rusted Realms (a dark and hellish communal realm where the Stríðsfaðir and two other Dark Ones do battle), as well as the creation of other so-dubbed Revenants of Order from places of their fall.

How much did Samara need to know? He pondered this as he entered the building, his iron boots clapping on what remained of the wooden floors. He spoke to Samara as he grabbed a glass bottle filled with half black, and half blue liquid split down the center from his belt, "As to the basics of Lawbringing: it matters not what you are..." He violently shook the bottle, causing the liquids to mix and creating a bright cyan light to emit from about seven feet around him, before he fastened it on a loop in the front of his belt. The light revealed the full extent of the carnage in the shaded structure. Dried blood, chunks of flesh and viscera, as well as the occasional appendage littered the place up to the second level. Which through the collapsed floor the floor of the third was visible. "...if you steal, murder, invade. You must be punished, as to what that punishment is..."

He paused as he spotted the shaking and bloodied silhouette of a woman hanging from a loose boards of the rafters, he looked as Samara and put his hand in front of his vissageless helm in a shushing gesture. He then picked up the leg of an ancient table or chair, and hurled it at the woman like a thrown axe. It broke her left arm and caused her to fall with scream. She landed on her leg causing it to break as well. The mangled woman groaned and cried in agony as she tried to crawl away. "...is up to us, hope your thirsty."

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Samara followed the man into the ruined structure. Not that she trusted him entirely yet, but if a hunter were going to attack a Vampire it was better done in even veiled sunlight than the dark places of the world. Besides, his voice soon came back with a response to her question. You wouldn't waste your time talking about who you were to someone you intended to betray. Well, She would; but then She was a devil.

She watched in silence as the man picked up a broken shard of the past and threw it at the woman in the dark. It was a sight easy to behold. Especially when Dy'vus' mass blocked the light from his alchemical concoction. The dark was such a peaceful, relaxing realm for her eyes. It was a relief to be indoors. One punctuated at times by that light the man conjured. Hopefully he'd done so merely for his sake and not Samara's.

With a slow gait, the Vampire started forward with precise positioning of her boots to not cause noise. The bottled light would betray her silhouette for only a moment; after that, the woman would only had the scant belief they'd seen a shadow in the consuming darkness around them move. Until she replied, of course. "You know what I have learned since I became a monster? We are all monsters. Most don't even recognize it in their selves, because all of their kin believe the same way. They encourage it. But there are those," Samara stopped near the woman, her unseen eyes fixed on the broken creature, "that revel in it. The ones that will never stop."

A soft shushing sound followed Samara as she knelt down beside the woman. "No one's going to hurt you any more." After a light stroke of the cheek, she bent down ever lower toward the prone figure.

The fiend's presence kept the thirst ever present, but Samara managed to keep it in check for long periods of time. Moving in daylight parched her all the quicker; not because it burned her soul, but from the discomfort the light and heat had on her body. A little crimson would help offset the mind-numbing pain. That and on some level, Samara had begun to find it normal. Though she often didn't indulge to the point of death. This time it seemed little option. It was death by the fang or a slow, agonizing death as she bled out in the woods.

Oh, there was the sword, of course. Drawn across the throat. But there was no need to waste the blood. It spared some other soul from Samara's fangs later -- or delayed it a good while anyway.

Hopefully her new friend wouldn't mind the few moments it'd take for a Vampire to draw out every drop the woman's heart could pump. Unlike many others, it was quite impossible for her to talk with her mouth full.

Provided there were no interruptions, Samara drew her head back until she squatted before the still and silent corpse. "Perhaps some day we'll share stories about the kind of monster we are and how it came to be, Dy'vus Luno."

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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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Cauldwin watched with his arms folded, taking care to examine every detail. This was of course a test to gage his new found compatriot. There was a surprising amount of compassion for a dying criminal. There was also however a lack of hesitation: a utilitarian approach as to not waste her food or was it simply the inability to hold back her urges any longer? Her monolog was of particular interest to him however, in his short time returned he found himself fascinated with philosophy and its underpinnings.

"I don't know if I believe *all* things are monsters. Though in hard times it becomes more common place. You know how I make peace with it? You can be a monster who acts out of selfishness, or you can be one who acts on behalf of something worth being a monster for.", he uncrossed his arms and approached Samara as she fed. He tilted his head to examine the dead or dying human woman, her broken limbs jolted at a sharp angle in her pale blue common brigs and leather jerkin. Her matted blonde hair, deathly pale skin, and the blood that spilled out from her throat from where samara fed. He pondered for a moment if this criminal was the sole-survivor of the treasure hunters.

There was clear evidence they were assailed by the abominable construct, and though it is possible it was simply dormant somewhere in the building it was more likely it emerged from some hidden area. The lack of biomass and the fact this criminal was hiding would support this theory. He would need to investigate further. His iron boots clanked hard against the wood as examined the structure, he followed the deep three-toed claw marks and dried blood stains. Eventually his gazed landed on a slightly disturbed large ancient rug, many claw marks and blood stains old and newer led just under it. He threw the rug off revealing a cellar door. Perhaps the constructs den? He called out to his strange new found compatriot, "When your finished, get over here! I found something..!

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Samara stood and carefully navigated her way through the broken ruins. Dy'vus had moved deeper into the confines and had located something of interest. Something other than philosophical discourse, for which she tabled continuing the discussion until another time. Nonetheless, the Elf had questions to put to the man to see how strong his own beliefs were on the matter. For instance, what was worth accepting that you were a monster? Her life before being embraced by the fiend seemed little more virtuous than the one she had now. With one important difference, of course.

The blade at her hip was slowly drawn as she neared the uncovered cellar door. "Stand to one side when it opens. If anything be inside, let it come to us if it must," her lowered voice carried in the enclosed space. Samara took up position and crouched down beside the cellar door. Dy'vus' light shone brightly against the blue rings of her eyes as they flicked up at him. A small nod followed for him to open it when he was ready.

When opened, Samara paused a second before she crouched down and leaned to the side to peer under the lip of the exposed room beneath them. A slight squint followed not of difficulty piercing the veil of darkness, but in avoiding the gleam from Dy'vus' chemical lamp. Naturally the knife-eared woman kept her ears open for sounds of skittering, scrapping, or clattering of any kind. The worst thing about such monstrosities, however, was how lifeless they could be until they deign otherwise.

Slowly she shifted closer to the ledge before a silent hop dropped her into the pit. A wide stance absorbed the force and kept her sudden intrusion as quiet as possible without invoking magic. Initially nothing seemed out of place. A room full of rotten furniture, barren shelves, and broken barrels. Until Samara turned her head and noticed a dim glow coming through a stone archway. Another chamber.

Two quick waves of the hand signaled Dy'vus to follow as she slipped out of sight toward the next room. Samara stayed low and made sure not to bump into the broken and neglected ruins of some past life. If this were a den of such a creature, perhaps the artifact, tome, or remnant of some ritual might remain to explain the diffuse glow just around the corner. Mindful the creatures could lurk anywhere, the Elven Vampire cast her eyes upward and then slowly began to peer around the corner of the doorway in an effort to see what awaited them.

Suspended toward the opposite end of the room above a circle of runes was the body of a man. Their clouded gaze suggested the life had already been extinguished. As Samara watched, one of the corpse's legs were twisted off with a wet pop and slurping sound. Several planks hovered nearby slowly brought forth and pushed away as if being examined by an unseen force. Meanwhile, a second body was hung from the ceiling by several ropes; their eyes were closed, which made it difficult to certain whether they were alive or dead. Samara had little expectation for the former. The wall behind them appeared caved in and exposed some form of tunnel or cove.

The Elf drew back and turned to check on Dy'vus' location and to describe what she'd seen. What would a man of Agony desire to do under the circumstances, she wondered?

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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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Cauldwin nodded and slowly knelt down and lifted the door, the light from his flask revealing nothing immediate from the top of the apparent drop. He then immediately flung the hatch open revealing the square plank walled abyss in front of them. On the wall parallel to the hinges of the hatch door was the fractured and broken remains of the wooden ladder one would use to descend into the darkness.

The bottom not being visible he nudged a broken piece of old wood into the shaft with his foot. It would be almost a minute until the soft petering could be heard. Even then he was unsure if it was the fragment he had dropped or something beneath. Without a word Samara jumped down, ladies first he supposed.

A moment passed. Not hearing any signal, nor being able to see one through the darkness he decided it was time to make his decent. The catch of decent armor however was that gravity was his enemy, he would have to take care not to simply drop into the abyss if he didn't which to be a pile of broken bones and metal. He Hung from the right ledge of the opening, he dug his metal boots into the damp ancient wooden planks, and then with the sound of snapping wood he began to slide down the side of the structure. He then jumped to left wall, and then back to the right as he continued his descent.

He reached the bottom with a heavy clank of his boots hitting the cobbles. The light of his flask flooded the corridors of the room as he looked for his compatriot. Only seeing furnishings, shelves, and other ancient living arrangements. The nature of such a hidden sanctum brought some substantiation to the dark fairy tale surrounding this ruin. He drew his sword and walked forward cautiously, passing a corner he found Samara awaiting him. In front of her things he was all too familiar with.

The feeling, that itching, rage inducing, defiling feeling. This place was a wound, another tear the teetered between this realm and the rusted. The laws of nature and magic were twisted and perverted in this place, but on the bright side (or dark side depending on how one looks at it), being closer to the rusted realms meant he was closer to the Stríðsfaðir. He would be far more capable in this place, more of a spectral force than a (un)living thing. He may even be able to call on his Svalen at will should the need arise and the tear be substantial enough. Be that as it may, first and foremost he had a duty to complete.

Without a word he began purification, he quickly strode up to the tied man, grabbed the excess of rope and tied it around its neck. With to dexterous cleaves, he cut the rope keeping him up by his leg and arm so that it would swing by its neck and hit the wall. He next set his eyes on the black ritual. He'd seen some things similar in Eretejva Tundra where he was brought back into the mortal world. One difference was that these runes were not Nordwiir or Nordenfiir in language. It was closer to some form of bastardized elvish calligraphy.

He sheathed his blade and attempted to thrust his right arm at the corpse, as soon as his hand passed the threshold. the plates and flesh disappeared in there place his large charred skeletal bones. The same as when he was cooked alive in his armor by his fellow Allirian watchmen. He felt the pain of his death as tried to reach the body, the very air rejecting his seizure of the corpse. As in life, as in death: his will was iron, no man was beyond judgement.

His charred skeletal hand and now shoulder and part of his chest managed to reach the corpse in the center, and with a violent force he through the corpse out with a demonic, bear-like snarl. Its body mulched, into a desiccated pile of gore on the wall adjacent and as soon as his arm was out of the bearer it returned to it normal state of flesh and rusted armor plating. He gave his fingers a flex, as he turned his gaze to Samara. The faint green glow in his eye now potent and large, he spoke with a voice more than just his own, a more sadistic, animalistic, beast like voice, "It looks like you get to do somethin' not many folks do, Lawbring'n to the laws o' nature."

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The Elf's flesh took on the hues of the magic that swirled in the chamber bereft of its meat puppet. Planks of wood had clattered to the floor with nothing to bind them to any longer; but the power lingered in the place. Perhaps awaiting another to take its place. Though Samara's eyes did not reflect the light of either it or Dy'vus' flask; they were fathomless depths with burning rings of white flame centered in her sockets.

She slowly strode forward no longer concerned with going unseen. Not that stealth seemed possible with the manner in which the Metal Man had made his descent. No horde of hungry beats had yet to emerge, but that did not mean there was no longer any danger remaining. Not that she much cared. After all, Dy'vus had such a delightful, alluring darkness to him. One of her hands slowly extended toward the man to rest on his armored appendage if he allowed it.

"I do so look forward to that. Not so much were it you that sought to bring the Law to me in my Palace of Shadow. Perhaps someday you'll do me the honor of finding me. For now," Samara's eyes slid toward the passage behind the hung corpse, "disturbing the Laws of Nature sounds delightful." A deep place drowning in dark energy and an alluring presence had been too much for the fiend to ignore.

Her eyelids fell and a soft breath escaped her lips before the white rings lifted to regard Dy'vus; the flame that pour from her eyes had settled into finely honed rings instead. "Are you... intact?" It seemed foolish to ask if he was 'alright.' The fiend may have surfaced for a time and withdrawn, but Samara hadn't been bereft of witnessing much of what had transpired. Some manner of necromatic Art. Frightened? Not any more than since the moment they'd met. Mindful there was more than an animate suit of armor and some bones, however.

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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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An obvious possession took over Samara, in this state her hand slowly reached for his arm that rattled with the burning pain of his death and forced out the dog within him.

"I do so look forward to that. Not so much were it you that sought to bring the Law to me in my Palace of Shadow.

Her eyes darkened and glowed with a white flame deep within, like light in the abyss. In them the beast was drawn back to the void, to the time he first felt hope in the rusted realm. The beasts green eye was drawn to it like a moth to flame. He- it felt some sort of companionship with this abyss dweller, this shadow fiend. He watched entranced as the fiend continued.

Perhaps someday you'll do me the honor of finding me. For now," Samara's eyes slid toward the passage behind the hung corpse, "disturbing the Laws of Nature sounds delightful."

The beast within watched intently, clearly smitten with the creature. Then the the master snapped from deep within him. Momentarily the beast was scarred fighting tooth in nail not to be pushed below again, it didn't want to go back in the cage. It had no power without pain, then as the fiend left, Samara's words forced Cauldwin back to his senses...

"Are you... intact?"

The green orb narrowed to the subtle dot in his eye. He returned to his upright composure. Buried beneath he was not fully unaware of the actions of the beast, but he couldn't piece together the whole situation. Was she... what is she? Night-walker sure, but that thing in her... she wasn't Nordenfiir. She was possessed by something, something dark, and the beast liked it. Which meant he did not.

He was unsure how to address the situation. Did he put her down? A dark side was no different then his own. This was something different though, not something he could easily classify and with the beast waking he couldn't analyze the situation. He couldn't let her leave, that was certain. He couldn't kill her, not enough to prove malevolence. He would have to continue with her in his company until he could find out what it was within her. He spoke in a confused tone, his thick Allirian accent returned (If your curious, Allirian accents are basically talking like a pirate.), breaking his vocal composure a second time, "Aye... Aye, 'm fine... no. No 'm not fine. What in Nykios brass balls are ye'?"

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There it was again. The accent. Samara wondered if that was his native tongue, and the more... neutral tongue that formed a public mask he wore to give him some kind of control over the dark power that animated him? She had as many questions about Cauldwin as he had about her. After all, his condition was a little more apparent than her own especially once you were up close -- within sword-cleaving distance. A magic circle peeling away his covering and whatever flesh remained even if briefly helped too.

Samara's brow pinched over her nose at the man's words. He was fine, but not fine. Naturally. Perhaps if the man spoke proper Elvish -- and by that, Samara meant a Dark Elven tongue -- he could express himself more eloquently. Trade-tongue it remained, however.

A soft snort followed Dy'vus' question. "I wouldn't know, having never inhabited Nykios' balls. If you wish to call upon a proper goddess, then you should call upon--" Samara blinked and went silent for a moment. Her head cocked sharply to the side. Even the very act of breathing had gone still in her body. The tension broke a second later as her eyes blinked. "That doesn't matter. I should be the one to ask you that question, Dy'vus Luno. Is it not enough you know I am a 'Nightwalker' when you've not told me more than you impose justice on an injustice world?" Yes, it was deflecting. He could get an answer if he pressed on the matter, but being the subject was not one she paraded about proudly, Samara would attempt to evade a casual query. Most truly didn't care. Most just sought to fill an awkward moment with idle banter and could be easily distracted by another topic.

Nykios. Now there was a god. Long as you didn't get into a theological debate.

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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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"I wouldn't know, having never inhabited Nykios' balls. If you wish to call upon a proper goddess, then you should call upon--"

Cauldwin's arms folded, though his vissageless helm hid any visible emotion on his face the way his head tilted down as he stared at Samara seemed like he was glowering at her. The sentiment one could glean was not another word. A tense moment passed and she continued.

"That doesn't matter. I should be the one to ask you that question, Dy'vus Luno. Is it not enough you know I am a 'Nightwalker' when you've not told me more than you impose justice on an injustice world?"

It was a bit hypocritical, he could admit. That is, asking so much about her, yet giving little to nothing about himself. However his duty required her co-operation or her head. Besides he spent almost twenty years of his life dealing with the scum of Arreck-Slums and almost another ten loping off their heads or putting them behind bars. He knew a deflection when he heard one. He would not be dissuaded, he spoke again, his accent once again being of the more empirical persuasion and his tone commanding, "Oh, believe you, me. We will get to that. But whatever I just saw wasn't normal, and I've seen some serious possessions in my time. So I'll ask again what are you? And don't just respond with 'Nightwalker' or its equivalents."

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Samara stared at the helmed warrior before her as he pressed his question. "Vel'bol f'sarn zhah naust de' dosst nou'hai. Ol zhal'la tlu z'lonzic zhaun udos malar qua'laen udossta ehmtu arlathil whol lil' nezcau'bol d'lil vassnti." (What I am is none of your concern. It should be enough to know we fight against our own nature for the benefit of the innocent.) Whether Dy'vus understood her or not, Samara slipped into her native tongue with the terse response. Would they 'get to that' as the man said? An endless demand to know what she was, why she should be trusted, and why she shouldn't be killed. Never mind she had the same cause to expect that of him, only for the man to refuse with a promise that eventually he might answer her in turn. As though what she had just seen with the ritual circle were 'normal.'

Now, now, Sweet. I want to play with him a little more. You wouldn't deny me that, would you?

"Quarval-sharess de' Phindaril." (Goddess of Monsters) The words were scarcely audible as they passed across Samara's lips. "I... was Chosen by my-- the Goddess. She visited me every day for nearly a month revealing Her power and majesty. The day before I would have touched Her face I was taken from Her. What She did to me led me to flee my homeland in order to survive." Different parts of herself were struggling over how describe what had happened or anything regarding the entity that Dy'vus had glimpsed at the smallest degree.

The white rings fixed on Dy'vus. "If you are so anxious to meet Her, you have but to ask. I'll drain the dark energy out of you and She will embrace your soul with open arms." Samara hissed before she turned aside so her eyes were no longer on the suit of armor.

Her hand soon pressed against the wall of the cellar as the Elf bent over slightly. A uptick in the pace of her breathing filled the air. Samara's fingertips pressed and curled against the stonework. Soon the soft sound of cracking and splitting of rock could be heard. The Elven woman collapsed to the floor on her knees as the brick under her grasp turned to rubble under the pressure.

It's alright, Sweet. I'm here. I'm always here with you.

Talking about the entity -- naming it -- only made things worse. Samara consciously fought to control her thoughts in these matters. "Is that enough to sate your curiosity?" The hoarse question was soon forced from her lips.

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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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Samara stared at the helmed warrior before her as he pressed his question. "Vel'bol f'sarn zhah naust de' dosst nou'hai. Ol zhal'la tlu z'lonzic zhaun udos malar qua'laen udossta ehmtu arlathil whol lil' nezcau'bol d'lil vassnti."

Cauldwin hearing this response it was, well, unsatisfactory. His understanding of the common elvish dialects could be likened to the skill of a child, but this alien dialect he only got something along the lines of 'fight', 'innocent'. Tough he had sincere doubts this fighting the innocent was what she intended to tell him. A clever twist of his words, as he didn't say in what language he wanted his question answered. If his question had been answered. In fact he would have laughed at this bardic trick had he been sure it was an answer and he was not infuriated by the refusal to co-operate. Then came more oddness as Samara seemed to struggle internally...

"Quarval-sharess de' Phindaril." (Goddess of Monsters) The words were scarcely audible as they passed across Samara's lips. "I... was Chosen by my-- the Goddess. She visited me every day for nearly a month revealing Her power and majesty. The day before I would have touched Her face I was taken from Her. What She did to me led me to flee my homeland in order to survive." Different parts of herself were struggling over how describe what had happened or anything regarding the entity that Dy'vus had glimpsed at the smallest degree.

That was very much a situation similar to his own, chosen by a god to become their monstrous champion, and now far from home fighting horrors and being in the service of people you would have in another life scorned. Though the last part was more of a guess. She then continued...

The white rings fixed on Dy'vus. "If you are so anxious to meet Her, you have but to ask. I'll drain the dark energy out of you and She will embrace your soul with open arms."

A chittering growl could be faintly heard emanating from deep inside the suit if armor, not that he really believed his 'power' could be drained. Part of it was intrinsic, bound to him the day he was born. Part of it- of him was still in the rusted realms. Part of it was the Warfather's will, something infamous for being almost impossible to bend, let alone break or absorb. Though he did not respond to threats well, he restrained himself. Samara become visibly weak.

She fell against the wall, now Cualdwin was never gentleman, but he didn't allow her to fall to the floor. His right arm was stronger than the stone, he held her up, his arm arched around her back and under her arm. Putting the weight of gravity on his limb rather than her legs. He couldn't understand why he had bothered to aid this abyssal nightwalker, perhaps being so close to the wound allowed the beast more sway over his actions passively, more likely he empathized with the elf.

"Is that enough to sate your curiosity?" The hoarse question was soon forced from her lips.

It was suitable, though he intended to keep his word, she wished to know his affliction and how it came to be? "Do ye' want the short story? 'Er the long one?"

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"Whichever does not require me to speak of Her longer than I must." Samara looked down at the man's grasp about her as she focused on restoring the strength to her legs. "The more I describe Her, the more I feel Her influence within me. The thinner the boundary between the Real and Surreal -- this and the next world -- the more She can touch me no matter how far I've fled. She is the Matriarch of Nightwalkers. A terror blacker than any you've known. Her vessel bound to a single land, and all that keeps Her from corrupting every living creature in our world."

Samara's stood and slowly looked around and up at Dy'vus with her white eyes suspended in an abyss. "As she did me. I have to fight to be the person I was, Dy'vus. Fight it with all I have -- a struggle that has robbed me of my magical abilities. Because..." a sharp exhale and small smile allowed her to draw out the moment before confessing, "I want to give in. I-- No! No. I cannot speak further. Not here." Samara could feel tendrils from Beyond crawling across her mind eager to draw her into their endless clutches.

"So, Tin Man," the Elf's smile softened at the edges as she looked up at him, "what is your story?" She used the earlier moniker to convey what she hoped was mirth and a break in the tension. It was good for her to not speak and simply listen to his tale. Even if Her whispers never ceased.

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Cauldwin Talson Valfnyr

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"Ye' are a strange one, knife ear. Though, 'suppose that's a Dwarf call'n the barmaid short..." , he focused positioned his head so the green glow of his eye would lock with her eyes, "Ay, ay! Focus on me eye, and me voice... where to begin, where to begin... ye' like fables? Course ye' do. 'Ell a long time ago in a muddy island far far away... there lived... uh... a dog. A real big dog, the biggest dog on the whole isle. He spent the beginning of 'is life as most big dogs do, fight'n for people's entertainment. One day the lord of the isle saw 'im in one of 'is fights. Decided he wanted the gaint of a mutt to be part of 'is pack of guard dogs, that protected the isle and killed its enemies..."

Cauldwin lowered his gaze again, so that Samara's focus was purely on him, "Just breathe lass, look at me. Your going to be alright... Now this isle of muck was a big port city, tied half the world together though it. Was real wealthy but that made it a target, that's why its lord had so many dogs. Now the lord for wha'ever reason took a shin'n to the dog, gifted him a real nice suit of black iron plates, so that no foemen could best 'em in battle. We'll that big 'ol dog become real seasoned. He killed hundreds, elves, men, dwarves, orcs, savaged entire kingdoms with his pack for reasons he barely understood. All because he was loyal to his lord.

Well, the wounds, dead pack mates, and his Ma's pass'n took a tole on 'em. He lived a violent life before, so call'n 'em cracked doesn't really cut it... more like his mind was shattered. Well, when he was called home he wasn't the same, he was snarling, bitter, bit the hand that fed 'em. But when he was called to fight he still went, though now more for spilling blood than anyth'n else. Well, one day when called back from a long march the pack was sent to rip him apart. At first he ran, trusting the words of bat. The bat had other plans, it told the pack where he was for a pint of blood.

Well, the lord and the pack had a new alpha, one with flame in its fur. The pack sicked 'em but couldn't take 'em down 'cause of the old rusted plates he wore. So the flaming dog cooked 'em alive in his armor. As the armored dog cooked and swirled in his own blackened juices, the flaming dog ripped away one of his legs. Take away part of what he was, a warhound only fit for slaughter."


There was a pause, his focus drew again onto Samara, he shakes her a bit in an effort to make sure she stays lucid "Alright tales almost done, lass. No need to fade away out of boredom. From 'ere there are three different versions. In one version, the most commonly told one, his charred bones are lost to the earth forever. The other, more... eh, shady one, is that the smoke from his charred corpse rose up and declared judgement on the isle, and one day he'll return to destroy it.

The third one, the one I like most, is that his charred plates and bones were left by the pack and an 'ol huntsman found his bones and stuffed him in his lodge. The thing about a murderous
betrayal is, this world is filled with old magics, things brought on by only the strongest of emotions, in the 'ol warhounds case: rage. His bones would get up and roam the lodge. The 'ol hunter not knowing what else to do with the restless soul set 'em to work doing what the 'ol warhound did best...


Hunting the threats that lie in wait in the dark...

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