Private Tales The Last Resort

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Draedamyr

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"I'm not sure," he replied honestly. "We need to think of a way to get past a picket line of bastard pixies first. I don't think they'll be so...measured if we get dragged back here again."

He spoke as softly as he could, but hoped their voices could be lost in the hubbub of the army moving around them.

" I could see the map," he said with a frown." I was trying not to be too nosy. Couldn't recognise anything. But...he did seem to recognise you?"

Draedamyr watched the centaurs taking down several tents a distance away. If there was going to be a war, he just hoped they could stay at arms length from it near the commanders.
 
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She had survived a lot in her long life, even if some of those incidents were either only barely, or technically. Regardless, she was not about to end that life here in a foreign army camp flying banners she knew well and could not explain the presence of.

"If this really is the Warguard, then yes, he would have recognized me. I have been mostly changeless my whole life." The last time she had looked different was before she had slowed, and that had been in her thirties or forties. Numbers like that were meaningless when compared with eternity. "There is literally no reason top believe he really thinks it is so, though. They would have tried to slay us on the spot, or else fled. Nothing in between, not when its to do with the sorceress."

She looked around the camp with clear unease. "Something about this does not make me feel comfortable," she said. Intuition, some kind of danger-sense. She was not sure, she just knew that she very much did not want to be here anymore. "We should attempt it either way. Leaving, I mean. I can try to conceal us, or we can blast our way out..."
 
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Draedamyr

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They would have fled. That was a sobering thought. This war host that had chases them down so easily would have fled.

"What exactly is the War Guard?" He asked.

"We should do that, but perhaps find out a little more. Where they're going for a start so we run the right way."

Draedamyr tried to offer a smile, but it was distinctly forced.
 
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She paused a moment, and then offered the elf a smile that was a sight deal less forced. She did not like the current circumstances, but to say she was jaded by the concept of insurmountable odds was perhaps an understatement of epic proportions.

"We should at that," she said. How they would go about finding anything out among this lot was a good question, but there was always a way. In the meantime, though, she could answer the other question far more easily.

"They are a guild in the service of Leto," she said with a touch of distaste in her voice. "One of many; guilds were coalitions of Lords and Ladies of the land. Mo'pri was very much a land divided among the gods and goddesses, and most did not get along very well."

A bold understatement. Thievery, blood lust, and generalized greed abounded at every corner of the world, and quite often wars were fought for little more than desire of gold or land. She had always questioned whether there were any truly faithful alliances out there, and probably there were. Oleana, perhaps, especially, but the others had followers that were plenty fervent.

"The Templar might be the closest approximation here; imagine them with the power of a nation or twenty behind them and a license to kill granted by their divinity."
 
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Draedamyr

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"So what you're saying is that we've walked out of a demonic invasion and into a divine war?"

The question was rhetorical and despite how helpless he managed a subtle smirk. Luck, it seemed, was not going to shine upon them for some time. They'd clearly offended lady fortune somehow.

Those around them didn't look divine. They looked as bored and tired as any soldiers on the march. Not everyone got fancy tents and fine wine on the move.

"I have two ideas," he said. "First we simply walk in a direction and see how long it is before someone turns us back. See the extent of the camp. Secondly," he said, reaching for the coins at his belt, "I have always been very good at losing at cards. I'm sure we can find some soldiers willing to fleece me of some silver and they might be quite talkative during the process."
 
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"In my experience, there is little different between one and the other," she said. There was only the faintest trace of sour inflection to the remark; she had been part of both in her life, on both side of either conflict. There really wasn't much difference, not that really mattered. As with so many things, it was a matter of perspective which was which.

She walked alongside him as primly as before, casting her eyes this way and that. One army camp was much the same as another, and she'd seen many, many of them over her time on this world and on others. It was all very banal, even if it might mean they eventually had a heap more trouble than they wanted.

She raised an eyebrow at his proposal. Walking out of the camp was appealing enough, even if unlikely to succeed without any additional help from her own hand. But the other? The other might help to shed some light on their current predicament.

"I might have a coin or two to toss into that pool," she said. Looking up at Draedamyr, she gave him a tight-lipped smile. "Perhaps then we can shed some light on what all of ...all of this is," she added, gesturing around them. "I do not particularly like unanswered mysteries, and an army bearing the banners of a world that has long since passed away is a mystery that needs answering."
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr slowed to a halt. He wasn't a soldier, but had been close to war a few times in his life. He didn't know if the rules of the world he knew applied here, so went on the assumption that it did.

The run of the mill soldiers would be more loose lipped, but wouldn't be open to entertaining visitors to the camp. They'd look for someone of authority to tell them it was acceptable. He looked for the larger tents, the officers of this bunch.

He picked a direction and set out.

"If I assume that this is like most armies and half the officers are inbred fools handed a commission because of their bloodline is that going to turn out to be completely wrong?" he asked quietly.

"Damnit, we didn't get the name of the man who told us to stay did we?"
 
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"I do not think that will be an issue." The statement was matter-of-fact; it was not very likely that word of the outsiders being taken had not made the rounds through the camp, on the move or not. Soldiers were insufferable, irredeemable gossips and, as far as she was concerned, worse about it than old widows were.

"The Warguard, as I remember, seated their more capable people in places that are quite a bit removed from the front lines. Your assumptions will not likely prove wrong," she added, though she was a little less certain about this than the other. She had been the head of one of the many Guilds, after all; first among equals in in times of peace, and unquestionable ruler during times of war and strife. She...did not remember dealing with people so far down the chain of command, except to issue curt orders during dire times. And she said as much to Draedamyr, having nothing to hide from him. Everything else had been laid bare, so why not this, too?

"You will be far more familiar with that than I," she said. "I was a ruler, not a follower or a soldier. Though it pains me to admit it, during those days anything less than nobility were little more than pieces on a game board." In other words, expendable, faceless, and unknown - out of necessity as well as a desire to be able to sleep at night, knowing orders given would result in thousands, if not tens of thousands, dying.
 

Draedamyr

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It was another little window into the past she had left behind. The past that perhaps she had walled off, that he now caught glimpses of through these windows. She didn't hold anything back from him, but he suspected that both age and a willingness to deliberately put those days behind her contributed to chunks of her memory being lost to time. Her, with her past facing her full on, he wondered how much more she would remember. He wondered how many memories she had deliberately locked away might come back. He very deliberately placed a hand on her shoulder. He would be there for her.

"I guess common old Draedamyr will go and speak to them then," he replied. He even permitted himself to smile for an instant.

It didn't take long. Walking through the larger tents he spotted a first group of officers sat around a decanter of fine amber spirits. He passed on by that group. It had the air of a private gathering. A little further along and there was a group of more junior officers - or what he would typically perceive as officers. More important than the rank and file, not senior enough to be followed by their own baggage train.

"Gents, I find myself in need of entertainment," he said, unclipping a pouch of coin from his belt. He looked down at the table between the young men. "I don't think I know this game," he added, looking down at the wooden board. There were dice and little wooden pegs painted in different colours that could be pushed into holes on the board.

A novice with coin seemed to be enough temptation for them.
 
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An elf was not an uncommon sight among the realms of Tonan, the ancient sidhe remarked to herself. She was a bit of a different thing, though; her presence drew attention, curious and a touch uneasy.

"So long as your witch doesn't mess with our heads or fiddle with the dice," one of the younger one said. He had the look of a son from some middling noble family, not wealthy enough to have the entitled arrogance of one of the more prominent members of some local lordships fiefdom. "Not like we're doing anything for a bit, while the screen is out," he said.

Some of the others looked at the strangers, and shrugged. One of the older men cast the young man who had spoken a hard look, but whatever slip the boy had managed did not matter much, and so the dice went to the next player and the game continued, silver pennies and marks crossed the table periodically.

"Pull up a seat," said the eldest among them.
 
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Draedamyr took it as a good sign that they were already content to talk about having no immediate plans. He didn't seize on that little thread of conversations just yet. He didn't want to unravel it all and be sent away.

"Oh you can claim magic on her part if I clear you all out, but I very much doubt that is about to happen," he said. "I'll watch the end of this round and try to pick up the game."

My witch.

He couldn't take too much offense. Nor, did he realise, had they assigned her a different name.

"I don't think the stakes here would be high enough for you to intervene with magic Sueli?" He spared a quick glance towards Seska, but was trying to give the impression of studying the game intently.
 
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"Magic in a game of chance is a waste of the Art," Seska said unhappily. She did not particularly like the pseudonym given to her, but she understood the need of it. She also did not appreciate the notion - deliberately stated - that a Sidhe would stood to such petty uses for the Art.

"Of course, the fair folk don't manipulate chance," one of the people at the table - a human - said gruffly. "Their methods are far less direct." He picked up the dice, and tossed them out on the table, and grunted. He moved his piece on their game board, and spit into the dirt. "Cards are a better man's game than this," he growled.

"You just say that because you always lose," another said. An orc of some sort, with pale grin skin and rippling muscles, he looked very out of place considering the refined clothing her wore. His manner of speech was definitively cleaner than would be expected. "Always so generous of you to fund my drinking money to me," he added.

Seska said nothing more, for now. This was Draedamyr's game, not hers; she avoided social situations like this, often being completely unable to fit in among people who were, by and large, a tiny fraction of her age.
 
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Draedamyr

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He doubted she was going to be upset with him for letting the witch comment go under the circumstances. An elf of the sword, at another time he would have drawn his blade for that. He wasn't the young, hot-headed elf who had carved out his reputation on the dueling fields, but there were limits.

He had a goal here. Draedamyr made a show of studying the game as they played and asked just a few questions. It didn't matter whether he truly picked it up.

It was a game of luck with a veneer of strategy. They had several pegs each and were able to keep them together as a hard block to prevent them from being overtaken, or to try and send one ahead whilst the others slowed down their opponents.

It was a race and the eloquent orc with the blue pegs won the round.

"Just coppers then?" said Draedamyr, lifting a coin pouch.

"Yeah it's just a friendly game," replied an elf from who sat on the opposite side of the table. She seemed quite relaxed but the human with rotten luck huffed, eyeing the pile in front of the orc.

Draedamyr was assigned three black pegs on the board. Some of his copper coins went onto the table. The human eyed the unfamiliar stamps on them up, but gave a shrug and rolled the dice.

"I don't suppose you can spend your winnings soon anyway?" Draedamyr said as he took the dice and rolled them. The man's red pegs were spread out ahead of his own, so he assigned most of his score to just one peg to send it into the lead.
 
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"Who the fuck knows," said the human with the rotten luck with a scowl on his face. "We've been on the march for two weeks already, and there hasn't been anything bigger than a farming village the entire time."

"This is the territory of Barnabas," said the lady elf as though that would explain everything. She explained anyway, in case they didn't already know the truth of the world. "Our coin is worthless to the heretics, same as theirs is to us."

"Don't stop us from stealing it when we can, though," said the orc with a shit eating grin on his face. "We just don't accept it as payment. Honestly, it should all be cleansed before we steal it, but gold is gold. Wouldn't let the Leto's on within a mile of it unless we wanted it to disappear." There was a chuckle round the table at that. Regardless of the church, regardless of the God or Goddess, the general view of the priesthood was the same everywhere.

"With luck we'll be near Nether Hold soon. So long as the bastard Lord there doesn't see us coming, we should be able to ply our trade just fine."

Seska had stopped breathing at that moment, and gone a decidedly paler shade.
 
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Draedamyr

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Two weeks. That meant that their territory was within a few hundred miles. Another nation or state, if they used another currency. They may have stepped into the middle of an unfamiliar land full of mystical creatures, but these were mundane terms of war he could understand.

"Nether hold? Sieges can last..."

Draedamyr made the mistake of casting a sideways glance as Seska. She was unnaturally still.

Was it the final detonation of this army, or the fact that they served Leto, God of Chaos? She was in danger here, far more than he was.

"...a very long time."

He tried to pick up quickly and not draw attention to Seska. Already the leader of this force had caught on to her likeness. A likeness to herself.
 
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The orc snorted in response to Draedamyr, giving the man a look as if he did not understand how war worked. "Maybe in your backwater part of the world that might be the case," he said, "but in the civilized realms war is much quicker than that."

"Verily," said the elf, picking up the dice and rolling round idly in her hand. "Either the archmage will have called down Leto's fury upon them and crushed their defensive structures and walls, thus allowing ingress to their holdings, or..."

"...or we're all going to feed the crows," said the human. "Can count the number of close contests in this God's forsaken realm on one hand."

"Kind of like we can count all the money you have left to your name," pointed out the orc, and grinned when the fellow scowled. The hume scowled at him, and spit to one side.

"Say what you like, if the Archangel has not played his hand right, and the witch has seen this coming..."

There was silence at the table. The elf tossed her dice with a sour look on her face, which did not improve when she saw the snake eyes that had turned up.
 
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Draedamyr looked quitavly smug at the roll that gave his pieces and opening.

Seska had told him how limited her powers were within their realm. She had also told him of the great destruction her kind had unleashed.

On Arethil, war could be tipped by magic, but it was never the only factor at play. Mages were limited, a destructive force to use on the battlefield but it was typically tactics, equipment and superior numbers that won the day.

He glanced at Seska. Was she unchained from those limitations now? It did not seem to have changed her.

"You've brought a rather sizeable force for everything coming down to which god is most ready for battle," Draedamyr observed. He needed to play into his ignorance without going too far and giving it all away.

"You've been camped out long here?" he asked.
 
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Two of the gathered snorted at his comment, while the woman gave him a sidelong look. "Which? Stranger, they are all ready for war. You, me, this entire army...are not even throw-pieces on their game board." The look deepened into a frown. "I do not care how far in the backwater you are, you surely can't think that any of this matters?"

"The trinity have ever been at war. That harlot, Oleana, might be recently come to the scene but even in her godhead does she make war with the others." The orc fellow chuckled at it, but it was a dry chuckle. "Make war to win peace and put an end to the bloodshed. It has the ring of a pleasant dream."

"The war will never end," Seska said, suddenly. Her words were filled with a sadness that seemed at odds with everyone else in the room.

"Aye, witch, the war will never end." The hume picked up the dice again, and fiddled with them. "How long has it raged on for? Three hundred years? A thousand?"

Tens of thousands. The blood of countless millions - nay, billions! - soak the land. And so it continues, world without end. Only, she knew that there was an end to the world. She knew what they did not...that eventually, one day, the power called down by the faithful would swallow the world in madness, and bring about the final tidal wave of blood.

"We have not been, stranger," the orc answered guilelessly. "It would be foolish to remain in one place long. But however long we have been loitering, shifting about the woods in an effort to keep the wrong eyes from seeing...that time is fast coming to a close." The others nodded. It became readily apparent that they did not care if a potential enemy learned of the plans that were coming to a head. This army was on the move, but the movements held purpose.

"Come the morrow, we'll sup on the blood of heathens," said the elf.

"That, or they shall dine on our flesh like the barbarians that they are," said the orc.

The hume grinned, but it was a mirthless thing. "In either case, win or lose, the only ones that profit will be the crows," he added sourly.
 
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Draedamyr

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They were a day from battle. That lowered his spirit a great deal. It also went some way towards explaining their capture. An army couldn't march that far in a day. It meant they were well within range of enemy scouts and would be combing these woods thoroughly.

The two of them wouldn't be sneaking away from this army before battle was joined. They would stand a decent chance, he supposed, when the force was lining up for the assault.

"Well...I hope events fall in your favour," Draedamyr said. He glanced at Seska again. He would have reached for her, offering solace after hearing her tone, but didn't want to draw attention to her.

They needed to talk, but walking away as soon as those details were revealed would raise suspicion. These endless wars must have continued after Seska had left. Leaving the army wouldn't help them if they couldn't work out how to get back. It would still put them away from the coming battle.

"Damn," he hissed at his roll. His roll was low enough that the orc's pieces blocked his advance.

"You're not really going to eat one another when the battle is done?" He mused, passing the dice on.
 
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The fates were not so kind as to allow an escape from the horror to come.

"...remember..."

The singular words sighed through the tent like a breeze, ephemeral and eternal all at the same time. Only Draedamyr and Seska heard it; the others heard nothing. Seska glanced to the the grizzled elf, curious if he had that ghostly voice as well. Wondering what it could portend.

"Eat another one?" said one, qith a confused expression on his face. The others just shrugged.

"Not our call. We simply swing our swords where they tell us to, outsider." It was the orc again, looking grim at the question. "We're all commons, we decide not the course of our lives." He took the dice, and held them for a moment. If he looked bothered by the fact that he was, more or less, a second class citizen, it did not show.

"Anyway, who's to sa-" he began, and was cut off as a horn cut through the air, its harsh singular note soon joined by two, then ten, then a hundred others. The orc stopped mid-roll of the dice, and stood suddenly. "Wait, no! Its too soon!"

All the others stood rapidly, looking to the outsiders grimly. "Pray to whatever god it is you entrust your soul to," the hume said. "The dance is about to begin, and maybe naught will survive." He ducked out of the tent as the horns cried out their alarm again, and again.
 

Draedamyr

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Draedamyr looked away from the table sharply as the voice floated through them. They looked at him curiously. Seska had heard it. He pretended not to notice her looked, even as her held her gaze briefly before returning to the game.

The game was not going to be finished.

They had laid out a very simplistic view of what was to come. They waylaid their enemies and destroyed them or their enemy had set a trap and they would be annihilated. They steel and their mettle didn't matter in the face of their deities.

Draedamyr let one hand fall to the hilt of Reverie, but he waited to let them rush away.

"I fucking hope," he said to Seska, "that all of that was more enlightening to you?"
 
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She shook her head, but it was slow and hesitant. There was something here, and if she could just put her finger on it she knew she could solve the puzzle that they were stuck in right now. And yet...it eluded her.

"If we are really back on my home world, then we have much bigger things to worry about than any of that," she said as the others finally left. Outside, the sounds of the encampment had changed, become more frantic...but nothing more than that. Yes, at least. "I...I do not think you understand the scale of how wars were waged on Tonan. On Mo'pri most especially."

It was a cryptic statement, and she did not elaborate further as she grabbed hold of a hand that was too high to comfortably lead someone along by and nevertheless tugged at him to leave the tent. "We won't have long if they have been discovered. They'll send the scum in first, and then flay the land with sorcery before the armies arrive. This place will be hell on earth soon enough," she said in a much more calm voice than the situation really warranted. She, like he, had to wonder whether the chains that bound her on Arethil still held her here. There was only one way to find out.

As they stepped out of the tent, she opened herself to the prim, and took an inconceivable torrent of the stuff of creation into her flesh. It was the most she had held in thousands of years, since her last true attempt to leave Arethil had failed. Compared to what magi on the world of Arethil could tap into, she was like the sun beside a candle.

It was enough power to make her want to melt into a puddle and shout at the heavens simultaneously. Enough to lay waste to everything within her sight.

With trepidation, she cast out a web of chaotic power, crooning to it to take a certain shape, a certain flavor....

...and then screamed as the gateway started to take shape, and then crumpled in on itself. A million needles cut into her mind, slashing at her with terrible fervor. She released Draedamyr's hand and dropped to one knee with a whimper, and then heaved up the scant food she had eaten recently.

After a moment, she wiped her mouth. The glow of power still surrounded her, but it was muted. "Still...still cannot create a portal away," she said, thinking rather frantically that the chains still held.

They were still on Arethil, and had gone nowhere...which made her twice as confused as before.
 
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The commotion has spread through the camp like a wave. If they were going to be wiped out by magic, they were going to face it in an organised fashion. If they were sending in 'scum' then the enemy was trying to pin this force in place. They were being held so that the hammer could come down.

As she stepped away, he felt the magic coalesce around her. More than he had ever felt drawn into a single nexus. Given that his career involved hunting down the mages who unleashed chaos by bending the laws of magic beyond safety it was quite a feat.

If they unleashed magic that could wipe armies from the field, then she might have done such a thing herself.

"Seska!" he cried as she stumbled and fell. He looked sharply around, but no one was paying attention. He didn't even know if that was a name that would carry weight here.

"Still...still cannot create a portal away,

He dropped to one knee beside her, resting his hand across her shoulders.

"They we need to get away from here the old fashioned way. Where would they deployed those damned pixies and centaurs?" he asked. If they could avoid the those threats then at least it would only be the enemy to consider.

An enemy who he knew nothing of.
 
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"Its too late to run," she managed, getting up a little more slowly than she liked. For a moment, she wondered if this realm had ever seen war on a scale the likes of which was considered commonplace on Tonan. She very much doubted it. Here, the power of religion was weak, and the power of magic far weaker than that. In the world of Tonan, it had not been the case on any front.

Some part of her cringed at the thought of Draedamyr being forced to see a facet of her past. The sheer barbarity of the holy wars was on a scale that the aged elf would never have seen before.

True to her words, the first shrieks cut through the air. No fire fell from the sky, and no clash of steel; the cries were short and sharp and cut off suddenly. Even as she watched, she saw a woman - elfin, fair of skin and slender - jerk and clutch her throat as blood spurted through her fingers. She fell in a boneless heap some dozen yards off.

"Watch for fae," she warned. The source of creation still raged within her, heightening her senses a great deal. Those that were colloquially referred to as scum were masters of obfuscation, and chose the knife in the back and poison in the well rather than outright fighting. And why scum? Because they did not solely target the military or the priestly class. No, they would slaughter civilians not only as easily, but with great abandon.

Somewhere distant, a horn blew. It was so far away as to be a faint whisper...but she knew.

She knew. "Keep your eyes peeled. Lets head towards our enemies," she said, taking one of his hands and tugging at him to head towards the braying horns. "If we're fast enough..."
 
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Draedamyr

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Draedamyr had never been much use on the field of battle. In his world they formed tight blocks of soldiers and walls of shields. There was little room for individual skill, but that was the point. Archers, Mages and sometimes siege weapons would be used to try and break the formations before infantry clashed and cavalry mopped up.

Those wielding magic could cause a lot of damage to ranked formations and could turn battles, but they could annihilate a whole force on their own.

Draedamyr's focus honed to an edge as sharp as Reverie's. The blade softly whispered death as it was drawn. There was still room to move here, still a use for his skill. He took a slow breath as he fell into step behind her. Draedamyr dropped his mind into the space between heartbeats. There was no magic and no slowing of time, but his perceived far more within every second.

"Towards our enemies then," Draedamyr repeated. It was not as if they had friends on this side of the battle.

His arm snapped out. Light caught his blade. A full thud followed as his blade caught something else. The dart fell to the ground. Twenty yards away, the pale green face of the diminutive fae twisted in frustration. Rather than load another dart into her pipe, she dashed away.

"And if we are fast enough?" He asked as they continued on. It would get them away from this ruin, but place them in the hands of a different power.