Open Chronicles The Wolf and The Bat

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Ishar Morrad

The Spine - Kolia

Ishar stopped on the edge of the field, his lips thinning as she saw the river below. A sigh escaped him, though as his gaze wandered up the small mountain beyond he spotted the glowing fires from a dozen windows.

His head tilted back inn relief. "Won't be another night in the cold at least."

He thought he would have grown used to it by now, he thought a lifetime spent in the Blightlands might have worn the need of a bed away. He was wrong. There was still a part of him that craved the comfort of a mattress, the softness of a real blanket instead of a piece of canvas.

Did that make him weak?

Maybe.

At this point he didn't really care. It had been three months on the outside now, three months away from civilization as he made this way through the edge of the wilds. A part of him didn't want to do it, not this close...but a few nights wouldn't hurt. He glanced up at the sky.

Just a night or two.
 
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Rose

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Rose couldn't resist floating closer to the warm light of the village. She never could. It didn't matter how far she walked or the number of ... meals she went through. In the end... she always ended up back in the shaded corner of a lively tavern. Watching. Absorbing. Living vicariously through the people around her.

She sat deep inside that dark corner, the lantern over her head and the candle in front of her long since blown out, to no one's notice. She clutched at a warmed mug of milk, sipping slowly, as if it could curb back the true hunger that lingered along the edges of her attention.

A fiddler played cheerily on a stole. Men laughed and roared good-naturedly over cards. Children sat with their parents, enjoying a meal. And she smiled to herself, taking it all in. To the untrained eye, Rose resembled nothing more than sickly traveler passing through.

It was nice.
 
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Ishar Morrad

The river would have been difficult to cross, but thankfully he'd spotted a ferrymen getting ready to cross. Ishar had waved the man down and gotten his attention, and although he'd had to pay three coppers to get across it was certainly better than the alternative that presented him.

Once across he'd asked the Ferrymen for the name of an Inn, some place with a warm and comfortable bed that he could rent out for a night or two.

Unsurprisingly the man had droned on for a few moments, talking about his his cousin owned a place known as "The Barmaids Bouncing Bosom". He'd explained that the bar was actually supposed to be funny and not rude or offensive, and that it had been established by their family nearly a hundred years ago.

Village folk often liked to go on.

Eventually Ishar shouldered his pack and hiked up the dirt path to the village, passing a few people on the way. All of them glanced at him for a long time, as if they noticed something...off but couldn't quite say what.

Finally, Ishar made it to the tavern, the door swinging open to the lively music of a fiddle player.
 
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A cold swept in behind him, several candles flickered. Even Rose's corner seemed to get darker for a moment, the shadows thickening. Glances were casted his way....

And then the door thumped shut, heads turned away, the fire place urged more heat into the room.

Slowly, the shadows grew opaque once again around Rose. She watched the newcomer curiously, easily sensing a fellow traveler. inquisitive minds want to know, her brother use to say. And she wanted to know where he came from. She listened for any sign of talk.
 
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Ishar Morrad

For a few moments Ishar seemed to surveil the room, glancing around as he took in the different tables of people.

Most of them were surprisingly full, something he found a little odd in a village like this. A few of them had workmen at them, some a handful of dwarves, there was even one with an Orc sitting besides some halflings. He did a double take at the last, raising an eyebrow and then simply shaking his head.

He didn't notice Rose sitting in the corner, though he might have had he taken a complete look around. For now he was too focused on the cold, too focused on making sure he could get a comfortable bed for the night.

"I need a room." Ishar said as he approached a portly woman behind the bar.

She offered him a big smile, and nodded her head.

"Five coppers for a night, eight for two."
A part of him felt a bit shocked by the prices. In the Blightlands you would be hard pressed to find an Inn of any sort, and when you did it usually cost through the nose. Mostly that was because of 'security', but he supposed that wasn't much of an issue here. "I'll take it, and an ale."
 
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Little was to be overheard, her interests quickly fading. Most more intriguing was the orc with a face like a squished pig. Or the full grown humans that went up to her waist. Such diversity would have been a sight to see growing up. And here it sat so common place. She watched on hungrily, wanting to talk to one of them. Wanting to talk to anyone, really. But she sat stagnant all the same.

She clutched at her milk, finishing it off in a gulp and glancing down at the mug forlornly.
 
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Ishar Morrad

The room he was given was spartan, but that suited him just fine. The first thing he did was test the bed, sitting down and bouncing a few times as he tossed down his sword and pack with a smile.

Ishar remained there for a few minutes, closing his eyes and nodding to himself as he slowly stood and headed back towards the common room of the inn. He wasn't quite ready for sleep yet, and he wasn't about to pass out in the first five minutes of being in a village.

As he stepped back into the tavern area the Barmaid greeted him with a mug of ale on a tray, flashing him a smile before she handed off the cup.

He thanked her, then peered around for a moment once more.

There were few empty tables, though the one with the Orc and Halfling seemed a good enough spot. After a moment he crossed the room and sat himself down. The Orc grunted quietly, and the female halfling gave him quite a large smile.

"Greetings my friend!"
She practically preened, her voice as chipper as a Sunday morning. "Hello there."

Ishar tried to sound...nice, though his voice was a bare rasp.
 
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Hello!

The words hadn't left her mouth but she pretended she said them all the same, smiling as if she was part of the group, her eyes following them as they settled down.

What was holding her back anyway? She challenged at herself.

Hello!

Hellooooooo.

"He-" Her expression crumbled, the words catching.

No. How about more milk instead. Yes. She pulled out her coin purse, finding it with a meager two coppers. Well that wouldn't do. She'd need more. No problem, really . Her eyes flickered up to the last coin purse she saw-- on the new comer sitting with the halfling and orc.

Haha, gods. Haha. Fine.

"Hello?" She offered back over the few tables that sat between them.

An ever so light tug happened on the place Rose saw the coin pouch go, her fingers curling against her thighs at the magical effort.
 
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Ishar Morrad

As it turned out the Halfling had picked him out of the crowd as soon as he stepped into the tavern. She apparently had a notion that "Blight landers", as she called them had a particular look to them. Ishar was somewhat taken aback at the suggestion, but he supposed endless wasteland and broken desert would have that affect on people.

The Halfling didn't mind, and oddly enough neither did the orc.

He'd met few of the greenskins that did not come from the Blightlands, though the Orcs born there were of an entirely different breed. Ishar had fought many of them over the years, he could tell from just a single look that this one was different. Not any softer, but different in a way he could not wholly explain one way or another.

Of course over the chattering of the Halfling he didn't even hear Rose's distant hello.

Nor did he feel the slight tug at his belt, or rather, he did not notice the origen. A slight pull to him simply felt as though his trousers were settled wrong as he sat, tnus he reached down and adjusted his belt for a second before he glanced back up at the Halfling and answered her question. "Headed to Belgrath, I know a dwarf there seeking to head into the wilds. Pays well."

It was a lie, but believable.
 
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"Well hello to you," Rose mocked, voice softer as she now did not intend to be heard.

"You look awfully young to be out on your own." She mimicked the halflings voice, speaking to herself.

"And you look awfully tasty mind if I eat you?"

She made a face to herself, grunting as one final tug freed Isah of his coin purse, the object now floating in the air by ... shadows. Which condensed and darkened to hide their conquest as she prepared to call it over to her.

Easy peasy. Milk for days.
 
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Ishar Morrad

As it turned out it would most likely just be milk for the next five minutes or so.

Ishar had never been a rich man. His family had consistent of poor nomads and even Blightlands Templar Captains did not get paid. The few coppers he'd earned had been from selling animal skins, and most of those had already been spent on buying an ale and a room for the next two nights.

Rose would be sorely disappointed she'd chosen to steal from him, more so if the man figured it out.

The halfling however was determined to keep on chatting, talking about she and her orc friend were on their way to the Blight to try and gather a certain type of ore that could be used for some kind of ritual that did something. Ishar's face melted into a mixture of boredom and desperately attempting not to look like he was actually bored.

"Fascinating." He told the woman quietly, attempting to sound like it actually was. "I'm sure it will go well."

The words came just a second before he down the mug of ale, his hand instantly reaching for his purse to go get another...only to find it gone.
 
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Rose huffed down at the coin purse masked under the table and in her lap. "You, good sir, are as broke as I am." She closed it up, clutching it inside her palms and looking up.

A dear in headlights look dawned her before she could control it, the girl noticing him noticing it was gone.

Whoops. That was fast.

But he wouldn't miss a few measly coins, right?

Not a slooth in any sense of the word, she thought it would be wise to stand up at that moment and skidattle right to the bathroom. Can't expect the lone kid if the kid's not in the room when you start asking around. That's how this works, right?

She moved quickly.
 
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Ishar Morrad

His head immediately lurched around, searching for what might look like a pickpocket.

In truth he didn't expect that sort of thing in a sleepy little village like this. Most people would be making their own money, maybe a kid might try it, but to be good enough to sneak up on him without being detected? That would take a thief with true skill, or an ability of some sort.

He frowned as he looked around, spotting a young woman suddenly bolting to the right and heading to another end of the tavern. Ishar glanced above the doorway she entered, reading the sign quietly to himself 'outhouse'.

A frown touched his lips. "Excuse me, ale goes right through."

The orc chuckled at that, though the halfling looked more than a little embarrassed and just muttered something he couldn't understand. Without another word Ishar stood from the table and strode towards the doorway.
 
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Rose stood directly on the other side, without the presence of mind to try and hid or get rid of the evidence. The door bumped into her as she counted her fares. She squeaked, a coin clinking to the grounds and rolling right to the man's feet.

"Oi, watc-..." She gaped up at the figure, ice shooting through her veins. She took an instinctual step back into a shadow, moments from running.
 
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Ishar Morrad

"In the Blightlands Thieves and pickpockets are executed on the spot." That was not a total lie. There were always circumstances by which such acts were excused. Children, the truly desperate, but anyone who stole for the pure reason of greed was put to the sword.

Where Ishar came from there was not much to have, and those who stole from others who already had little were seen as the worst sort of scum.

He doubted it was the same in this little village, and he had very little authority to do anything of consequence anyway.

"Why don't we go to the magistrate? His voice was stone. "We can find out what they do to your sort here."

Ishar was pretty sure that was what they called their legal authorities in this part of the world. It almost always changed from town to town, but he wasn't really in the mood to think about it for too long. This girl had clearly stolen from him, not liked the result, and decided to make a break for it before anyone was the wiser.

Unlucky for her.
 
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If she coulda paled she surely would have.

Her back pressed against the wall, her jaw set i defiance to the situration. "Oooor how about you just take back your purse and let go?" She tried to reason, offering a strained attempt at a friendly smile. "I didn't mean no harm, I just wanted milk."

Her eyes darted around the hall, but with both doors closed all magical escapes were barred to her. She could only travel where shadows touched, or go out on her own two feet. A feat which a man like this would likely not allow.

Magically hide inside of the shadows then? ...A desperate last resort.

"I'm sorry?" She offered up the pouch, trying ever so hard to soften him a bit by setting her eyes into a wide, blue plea.
 
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Ishar Morrad

Milk? What did she have brittle bones or something?

He could sympathize with the need for food, she did look rather pale and sickly, but...stealing was still not the way to go. Ishar did not like thieves, not in the last, and as he snatched the pouch from her he scowled downward. Perhaps not an execution then, but a night or two in prison?

That was a lesson taught in it of itself. "Tell it to the magistrate."

He had never stolen a thing in his life, and most of his life had been about survival.

Without another word the former Templar Captain reached out and tried to grab the girls arm. His fingers once he took ahold of her would be like a vice, his intention to drag her back through the tavern and to the local Government house.
 
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She gasped, her arm dispersing to shadowy wisps before his fingers could brush them and keep her from them. The rest of her was quick to follow suit, his coin purse clicking to the ground as she tried make her escape.
 
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Ishar Morrad

"What in the fuck?" Ishar said as he found his grasp clutching at shadows, fingers wrapping around dispersing smoke.

Immediately his head began to whip around, free hand reaching towards the small of his back as he drew a small silvery blade. Within it's stark steel were ingrained a dozen tiny runes, all of them etched throughout the entirety of the weapon and even reaching across the handle.

His lips thinned. "Where are you witch?"

Ishar was a Templar, a warrior against the dark. He'd left in exile, but he still carried the knowledge of his past.

He'd encountered more than one wisp in his day, more than one mage of the shadow. The Blight Orcs of Molthal took many mages with them, brought from all corners of the Blightlands in order to wreak as much terror as they could. There was no fear in him, only more anger.

"Come out now and I'll make sure you survive this." He growled, taking a step forward.
 
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Fear ruled her thinking, her little shadow darting this way and that along the wall behind him. It was barely noticeable, a faint shimmer inside the darkness that naturally sat there, but to the trained eye....

"Please don't," came her voice, a soft whisper. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Please take it and let me go, I won't do it again, I swear!"

But she would. She'd do it countless times more if that's what it took to not remain isolated and alone with what she was. All that mattered right now was that she remain out of trouble, where she could be found out and killed on the spot for what she was.

"Please, sir," came the desperate plea, full of remorse.
 
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Ishar Morrad

Ishar took a half step back, eyes narrowing, gaze following the dancing shadow along the wall.

It was difficult, this.

He'd faced plenty of monsters of the years. Some of them appeared as innocent as bunnies, others...others had the look of atrocities walking. A witch that appeared to be a sickly young girl? It was nothing new, just another creature that tried to prey upon the good of men's hearts.

Ishar clutched the dagger more tightly. "What are you doing here? Feeding upon these peoples fear?"

The hunter ignored the woman's words, knowing them to be a lie. A lifetime within a the Blight had taught him one thing; never trust the word of a monster.

An ironic value, coming from him.
 
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"What! No!" She exclaimed, the shadow freezing in place at the shock of the suggestion. After a moment it began to buzz nervously, not sure how much to say. He called her a witch. Which she was, but it was a pleasanter half truth and one she'd prefer to stick to.

"I-...I-... I was tired of being alone So I came here," she began to explain quickly. "I just wanted to sit! I just wanted to... to be with people again. I can't- I can't help what I am." She stuck to half truths, saying the palpable things and with holding the others.

"And the I got thirsty... I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I won't do it again."
 
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Ishar Morrad

Ishar knew that some Witches were cursed with their magic, though in the Blightlands it didn't much matter either way. Once you learned you were either in the service of Molthal, fled, or killed. That was how it worked, how it always worked. There was no other way out.

It was different in other places, but Ishar didn't know those places.

Eyes darted quickly, following the shadow as best they could, lips thinning. He frowned for a brief moment as she spoke, her words sounding almost...sincere. The Truth?

The thought flashed through his mind for a brief second. His inclination was to believe it a lie, it almost always was. Witches in the Blightlands weren't innocent creatures, even when they looked like children. More often than not they had slaughtered villages and burned innocents.

Why would this be any different.

His fingers tightened, eyes locked on the shadow as it stopped.

"Why should I believe you?" His head suddenly jerked to the side as he heard the door creaking behind him.
 
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The shadow stilled again, it's attention shifting to the door.

But it wasn't enough to just escape. If she could secure not being chased ... that was just as vital.

She could only go as fast and far as her own legs could take her, regardless of the mode of travel used. And even that, in the end, had a price. One she was unwilling to pay.

"Because," she answered, her voice quivering. "If I wanted to hurt you, I would have already done it. I just want to live, please."

She sounded close to tears. She was. He had threatened execution. And what it would take to escape that fate ...

She didn't want to go down this path again. She hadn't meant to tempt it.
 
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Ishar Morrad

He wanted to strike out, throw the knife.

Ishar had no idea if it would work. The weapon was a thing of magic itself, created a thousand years ago by a Templar. The former Captain had used it to fight Sorcerers, Blight Orcs, and everything in between. It was always a guess whether or not it would harm one thing or another.

Sometimes the gamble paid off, sometimes it didn't. He frowned for a moment, teeth sinking into his inner lips as he considered the words.

A part of him still reached towards violence, still reached towards the old days, but he remembered what he was now. He remembered what was approaching in the nights sky. A brief glint of the moonlight, a lingering second, that was all it took for him to do worse than many witches had.

He frowned, and then slowly relaxed his grip on the knife.

Was he being a fool?
 
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