Private Tales What Does Not Kill Us

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Hath Charosh

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"Trade!" he barked out again.

Several komodi had emerged from the homestead now. At least two of them were armed. They were a little sluggish from the morning chill and from the stolen meade that still buzzed through their cold veins.

One of them hissed, spat and started running at him.

It struck Hath that despite the demonic influence, there must have been a point where his own mind had changed. Where he had gone from the point where this would have elicited a spark of fear, to now where he observed this with an almost cold disinterest.

That was the change he felt in himself. The spark of pure anger that met the challenge, the list to swing his axe, those were the demon trying to break out. He was glad he could still tell the difference.

He took a step and twisted sharply. The butt of his axe connected with the bandits jaw. The crack rang out. The bandit tumbled over Hath's foot. Two calm steps and he pinned it with a boot to the neck. Its protest and flash of claws stilled at the sight of the axe head in the air.

"Trade!" Hath repeated. He held up a single one of the coins, letting it catch the light.
 
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Pern

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"What do you want?" Pern backed away, moving to place herself between Willem and the elves, "We've done nothing wrong."

"Unhand the boy," repeated the elf, who seemed to gleam just a touch in a sunbeam.

"He ish under my protecshun," Pern replied.

"Unhand him, orc," he said once more, his voice growing more firm, "or we will be forced to take ...aggressive action."

The last thing Pern wanted was for more blood to fall. It didn't seem the elves wanted to harm the boy, but they also didn't seem keen on her. "Willem," she gestured to him with her hand at her back, "go to them."

Willem stepped out with uncertainty, looking to the one who seemed to be in charge.

"Come here, child," the elf offered with an extended hand, "you will be safe with us. Where is your father?"

"He ish being held-" Pern started.

"I asked the boy," interrupted the elf, a hard gaze given to Pern before softening once more upon the boy.

"At the farm," Willem pointed in the direction, "the bandits got him."

"Yes, we have been tracking those bandits for some time. They will be dealt with swiftly."

"Don't hurt Hath!" Pern blurted.

"Hold your tongue, orc!"

"He ish trying to help! He went to free the boy'sh father. Pleash don't hurt my friend-" Pern felt a strike to the back of her left knee and toppled to the ground with a yelp.

"If you should learn one thing from this day, child, it is to never trust the word of an orc," spat the leader.
 
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Hath Charosh

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"Trade," one of them agreed.

There was no fear in these komodi, barely even a glace for the one lying beneath the blade of his axe. They did not stand still either. They fanned out slowly, but stopped when Hath took his axe into both hands again.

"What for? Trade? Animal? Food? Grain?"

"Your life?"

The coin had possibly been too much, Hath reasoned. With some patience they could bring him down without losing another of their number. Though he would split the skull of the bandit under his boot with no hesitation.

"Man. There is a man," Hath replied. "Man for all the coin."

He took the small pouch from his belt and shook it.

"Kill him."

Hath groaned in dismay. There was only one way this went now. It started with a crack. As soon as the first komodi drew a weapon he brought Biter up and down in a heartbeat.

As they closed the circle, none of them heard the gentle creaks of elven bows being drawn.
 
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Pern

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Pern soon found herself bereft of her belongings, including her pack. The day had gone from bad to worse the instant they'd picked that off the ground and began to search it.

"Books, parchment, maps, healing supplies ..." an elf of, long, brown hair was carefully browsing the contents of each pocket, "smithing tools?"

"I tried to tell you, I am a blackshmith from Elbion. My-"

"Silence," the lead elf, whose name she had learned to be Ethelen, stood watching, "clearly these items are stolen. What use has an orc for books?"

Several elves chuckled at the apparent joke. Pern frowned deeply.

"Well well," said the brown-haired elf, "what have we here." She withdrew a book of Rune Lore & Magic from the pack, the sight of which made Pern's eyes widen substantially. The book fell open easily to the middle and there, pressed flat within the pages, was a gleaming golden feather. "Is that what I think it is?"

Ethelen raised his brows and approached, gently passing a hand overtop of the feather without touching it. His eyes narrowed in scrutiny and thought, turning back to the orcess with a scowl, "How is it you have come into ownership of this?"

"It wash given to me by my father..." Pern replied from where she kneeled on the ground, hands still held aloft at the back of her head.

"A gryphon's feather?" said the brown haired one, leaning to take a closer look.

"Do not touch it," warned Ethelen, moving to delicately take the book and close it once more, "that's not just any gryphon's feather. That is from the Dawnbringer herself, the very same our King holds. To take it against the will of the owner nullifies its power completely." He turned to place the book back in the bag and then shifted his attention fully on Pern, "Who did you say your father was?"

She sighed deeply, a sudden wave of relief washing over her as the feather was returned to safety, "Ignashush Oshric, Maeshter of the Fifth Order of the College of Elbion."

"I know this name," Ethelen replied with an obvious air of incredulity, "and I know this Maester to be a human. Why should I believe a man of such renown and power to be father to an orc?"

"He reshcued me ash a babe, took me in, adopted and raished me."

"Then why is your name not among the known pupils of the College? Surely any child of a Maester would be welcome there."

"They..." Pern looked away in mounting shame, "they would not akshept me. I did not have magic."

"A likely story ... an orc from Elbion, child of a Maester of the 5th Order, could not get accepted into a school of magic." Ethelen sneered and turned away from her, "I must admit that is a far better story than I would ever imagine an orc capable of crafting. Subdue her, it's time we move to the farm. They'll have your bandits well in hand by the time we arrive."


The Farm

A beat following the swell of movement on the farm saw a rain of arrows pouring in upon those outside from all corners of the farmstead. The elves appeared in number, a dozen at least, drawing forth from tall wheat fields and forest edge. Two had mounted the building tops, firing from on high while one dropped down onto the next bandit to exit the house: a sellsword human half drunk and half dressed.

Hath was not spared from the attack and many arrows came flying in his direction.
 
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Hath Charosh

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Duck

The voice manged to cut through the barrier placed between them by Pern's magic. Hath dropped to the floor beside the dead komodi.

An arrow whistled right past his ear. The heat blossomed out from his shoulder with the broadhead sliced his skin.

Hath snarled in rage. Inside him the demonic prescience growled back. It had been costly for it to force its way out to deliver just one word. Now it paid the price. A smaller price than Hath's death which would ha e extinguished any chance it had.

Blood ran freely from the shallow, but long cut through his skin. Hath crawled and then ran for the barn, bent over double.

Ahead of him an elf dropped lightly to the ground from the roof above. He had a slender blade, lifting it high to bring down at Hath.

Hath lifed his axe with both hands, catching the blade with the haft of his axe. He kept on running. The elf barely slowed him down and both went crashing through the wall of the barn.

Placing one hand over the elfs face, Hath pushing himself to his feet. He paid no heed to the muffled protest. There was a door on the far side of the barn.

It had seemed clear and open, but another silhouette blocked his path. Instead of waiting, this one charged on to meet him halfway. Hath was nervous around elven kind. They flowed with an ethereal grace. This once flowed past his axe like water. Its curved blade lashed out and caught him across the thigh.

Hath dropped to his knees. Determined to run from this place he stood, but the elf had already blocked his path again. Hath swung his axe and caught thin are. A flurry of swordsmanship and the elf struck both wrists with the flat of his blade.

Biter was dropped to the ground.

"[Enough Jorrel stop playing with it.]"

Hath knew no elven. He turned to see two more elves entering the barn through the hole he had made.

"[It could have killed Gerrosh and escaped. I'll...]" the swordsman replied in a sing-song voice.

"[Don't kill it. I want to know why it is here.]"

"Speak human?" Hath asked the talkative one. Several beads of blood were trickling down his thigh now.

"I can indeed sully my tongue with human but you had better make it worth my while. Otherwise I will take yours. What are you doing here? My scout said nothing about an orc. Why did you approach them?"

"Trade."

"You wanted to buy their stolen goods. Do you have no..." The answer seemed to annoy the elf in charge here. Hath could still hear the odd clash of steel, but the frequency dropped by the second.

"Money for the farmer. Sent by his boy."

"[Bind him. I haven't time for this yet. Have all the komodi killed.]"
 
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Pern

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By the time Ethelen's group had arrived at the farmstead the fight with the bandits was over. Komodi bodies littered the ground, while two male humans had been forced from the house alive. One was the older farmer, staggering from an injured leg but well enough otherwise. The other was a man who appeared to be in control of the cadre of criminals. His armor was Allirian and denoted him as a Knight, but it had clearly seen better days ... and so had he.

"Pa!" Willem cried and dashed away from Ethelen's hand, crossing the farm between buildings to his father who took him into a tight embrace. It was a bittersweet reunion, both having thought the other was slain.

"Thank you, thank you so much for your help," said the farmer, "I am in your debt. Please, if there is anything you need, we have grain and smoked meats, fresh milk-"

"We have no need for payment," Ethelen cut him off, "the capture of this lowly creature is payment enough."

"Ethelen," the Knight sneered as he was brought forward, "don't look so proud."

"Pride is irrelevant. You will pay for your crimes within Loriden and you will complain not."

"Funny," the Knight returned, his eyes skating to the two orcs, "where'd you pick up the oafs?"

"That is none of your concern," Ethelen turned from him to his next in command, "[is the farm clear?]"

"[Yes, all thirteen are accounted for.]"

"You-" the farmer spoke up, gesturing to Pern and Hath where they had both been planted on their knees and marked by four elven guards, "you helped my boy, is it true?"

Pern nodded and went to speak but was abruptly cut off by the tip of a sword at her throat.

"Do not concern yourself with these two, Farmer," one of the elves spoke, "they are beyond civility, as are all of their kind."

Pern cast a sideways glance at Hath, silently urging him to remain calm and peaceful.

"We take our leave, Farmer," Ethelen declared as the Knight was bound and walked separately of Pern and Hath.

"But what do we do with the bodies?" the old man called after them.

"Leave them for the crows, burn them if you like, it is not our concern now."


After some time of walking along the path that lead into the forest, Pern chanced an exchange with Hath in orcish, "[Are you ok?]" She'd seen one wound on his leg, but hadn't a chance to look him over beyond that.
 
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Hath Charosh

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Hath walked with a slight limp. He couldn't feel any more blood trickling down his leg. The wound was not too deep. Orcs were made of sterner stuff than humans and certainly elves. It took more to subdue them, they could push through more pain and more grevious wounds.

"[Fine. Did they hurt you?]"

He did not think there was a happy ending ahead of them. The leaders of the elven band seemed to hold orcs in particularly low esteem. The truly skilled swordsman kept glancing at Hath, perhaps hoping for a chance to finish what he had started.
 
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Pern

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Pern shook her head, "[I am fine,]" though she still felt the sting of the fresh racist insults, "[they no listen. I am ...]" she couldn't remember the orcish word for concern or worry. In fact she couldn't be sure she'd even been taught them.

"[...we go bad way.]"

They were now heading in the opposite direction they needed to go. The elven guard behind them hissed at them in elvish, likely for their talking.
 
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Hath Charosh

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"[Wrong way]," Hath replied with an nod so she knew the word. Orcish had a specific word for the incorrect direction.

Part of him hadn't believed that he would make it to the end of this journey. Delving through elven lands always had risks. Now he was certain that he and Pern would have their throats casually slit and that would be the end of them.

"[I could let it out,]" he said. "[That might be enough time for you to run. To get very far away.]"
 
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Pern

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"[No,]" Pern responded with haste, shaking her head with force, "[I will ... think."]

Her eyes landed on the backpack hanging from the shoulders of an elf walking closer to Ethelen. If she could get to it and extract the feather ... she could call the Dawnbringer to help them. Getting to the backpack with enough time to manage it was the challenge. She needed time to think of a plan, and figure out a good distraction.
 
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Hath Charosh

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"[I trust you.]" he replied, the statement came with a gesture of turning over his right palm to show that it was empty. It was few words. Most humans would have thrown out such a statement as easily as they discarded an apple core. It was not the same for Hath.

That he had heard the demon again was a worry. Pushed to the point where it was about to die with him it had pushed its boundaries to the limit. He did not know how far it would be able to push if a mage was able to remove it from him.

"That's enough grunting at one another," one of the elves behind them called out. The swordsman who had defeated Hath so easily was staying close, but he remained entirely silent.
 
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Pern

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Night fell more quickly than Pern expected. Though she was certain the elves were quite capable of navigating the darker reaches of the forest, Ethelen called to make camp. Pern did her best to keep an eye on the location of her bag, but both herself and Hath were taken aside and bound to a large tree. She lost track of the bag for the girth of the tree and slumped onto the ground with a withering sigh.

Two elves were posted guard on them at all times while they were tied to opposite sides of the tree to cut potential communication.

She could not see an easy way out of this. Hell, she couldn't see a hard way out of this. Her gut told her they were in trouble if something couldn't be done soon. Pern had no idea how far away Loriden was, but she didn't want to run the risk of learning it was closer than she hoped.

When a few hours had passed she was presented her first opportunity to figure something out.

The Allirian Knight was causing a stir, yelling, thrashing about. Whatever the issue was, it seemed enough to pull one of their guards off point. Pern waited until he was no longer in line of sight and began fidgeting with her binds. Though they were only rope, they were made of strong fiber - she hadn't the strength to break free of them on her own, but she had her claws to slowly work at them. Work at them she did.

"Hath ... whatsh going on?" she leaned around the side of the tree and hissed at him.
 
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Hath Charosh

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Hath could feel her working at the ropes. He had remained still and quiet. There were still eyes on his side of the tree. Even in the commotion the odd glance was spared in his direction. If Pern was trying to break free he didn't want to draw any attention to it.

"The human is struggling with two elves. I don't know if..."

A crack rang out around their corner of the wood. The sound of an elven nose being broken. Hath chuckled.

"The human is struggling with one elf. More are coming. Do you know anything of this place they want to take us?" he asked.

Hath didn't even flex against his binds. He watched with what he hoped was mild indifference.
 

Pern

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"Loriden," Pern kept at the ropes with her claws, "minor elven Kingdom. Not alwaysh on good termsh with Falwood. That'sh the exshtent of my knowledge."

The single sentry posted at their tree was making a slow round about its base. Pern fell still as he walked around to her side and noted that while he kept his bow ready, his dagger was not immediately accessible at his thigh. She watched him with a sober gaze, golden eyes flashing slightly in the dark, and followed his progress as he rounded the tree once more out of sight. Back to work.

"Can you shee my bag anywhere?"

Pern could feel the twines beginning to give way and was silently grateful that Hath had, at some point, convinced her to stop filing her claws.

"I'm almosht through..."
 
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Hath Charosh

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"Yes," he replied. "It is going to be interesting to get it back if we're going to run. It is with their bags in a pile. There is an elf sitting on it."

He watched the elf walking the circle around his side. Hath watched him carefully and then lifted his chin. It was enough for the elf to stop.

"Can I have water. Please," Hath asked in the human tongue.

"No."

The reply was prompt but it had bought Pern a few more seconds.
 
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Pern

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And a few more seconds was all she needed. Pern felt the rope give as the last threads split beneath her claws. So surprised at this that she missed her window to disappear - which may have been to their advantage anyway. Their guard circled back and she quickly tugged the slack of the rope together behind her back, watched him woefully, giving sleepy-natured blink, and yawned much to his disgust. Gods forbid an orc be allowed to yawn in civilized company.

Scowling as if someone had put a bag of poo beneath his nose, the elf turned to make his way back around the tree where he considered the idea of kicking Hath should the orc speak to him again. He didn't get the chance. Pern, waffling behind him with no idea of how she was actually going to subdue the elf, gave up, made a fist, and promptly bonked him on the top of his head.

Compared to Hath and his tribe, Pern was not the strongest orc around. Compared to an elf? One solid bonk squarely konked him out. She stifled a gasp at the effectiveness and narrowly missed catching him before he toppled to the ground.

Shebs.

What did she do now?

She looked around, pondering if she aught to just toss him into a bush, but then the others might notice him missing? She opted to prop him against the far side of the tree as if he were resting ... sort of. They couldn't tell from far away. Using the rope to tie him in place.

"I'm free," she hissed quietly to Hath, "I'm going to try for my bag but ... I might need more dishtracshunsh."

Pern ducked out behind the brush and began to make her way around the perimeter of the camp.
 
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Hath Charosh

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Her binds being freed loosened the ropes around his wrists. There was no one close by to see him grinding them up and down against the bark. Hath braced his back against the tree and yanked to snap yhr last frayed strands.

"Distraction," he grunted.

The man had been dragged down tmby the elves. One of them was fetching more rope. Hath didn't know exactly what she was going to achieve with her bag, but that was the plan.

He couldn't draw the attention of the group. The elves would be on him quickly and he had seen how deadly some of them were. He found a small stone. If he threw it at the one sitting with the baggage it would draw him and give Pern a chance.

Hath launched the small stone. For an exceptional archer it was a poor throw. Instead of landing near the elf and drawing him there was a loud clunk as it struck his head.

The elf flopped over the baggage.

It was probably not quite what Pern had in mind.
 

Pern

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She'd not seen the rock sailing through the air, but she had heard the sound of it pelting the elf sitting atop the supplies. As well, the subsequent rustling as he toppled over. She blinked from her cover in the bushes and watched as those other elves nearby presently wrestling with the Knight got the man under control.

For a simple man he was quite loud and very strong. Maybe she was giving him too much credit - elves barely weighed more than a sneeze.

But one of them had noticed the guard at the supplies slump forward.

"Vienne?" she called, "Vienne?"

Well damn. Not much time. Had to get to her bag before the alarm was sounded. Pern hesitated, glancing between Hath and the elf now walking through the trees her way, before bursting out from her cover and making a break for the supplies.

"Vien- OY!" the elf yelled, and began spewing alarm in elvish.

Stumbling over to the pile, Pern frantically began to search, tossing things aside as she frantically looked for the golden emblem embroidered on her bag.

"Get away from there!" the elf came running and made to unsheath her sword. Pern looked up, wide eyed, and threw a heavy bag of foodstuffs at her, knocking her squarely off her feet and into a tree. She quickly tossed another bag aside and found what she was looking for.

"I've got it-" she yelled, "I've got it! Hath! RUN!" and she began running herself, making through the trees while simultaneously rifling through her bag. It wasn't graceful, but it would be worth it.
 
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Hath Charosh

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He saw that swordsman again. The one who had disarmed him so easily. Just for an instant Hath met his gaze. There was no emotion in that look, but it conveyed a lot.

Hath knew that if he ran then the elf would give chase. And this time, if hath did not run fast enough, there would be no mercy.

If he did not run, then Pern would be the one put down by that blade.

Hath ran.

Elves gave chase.

"You'd best...have a small army...in there..." Hath said as he ran. He matched her pace, knowing that the elves would be close behind them. With luck the elves might tire quickly.
 
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Pern

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Where was it? Where was it?!

Pern's heart dropped as the thought of the elves having removed the item in question shot through her mind.

Please be here, please be here...

And then her hand closed around the journal and she brought herself to abruptly stop - a terrible idea given their current situation, to pull the book from the bag and fold it open to the golden feather closed within it. Pern made a gasping sound of relief, took the feather from the crease and shoved the book back in her bag, slinging it over her shoulder.

An arrow came striking through the air, stabbing into her bag just a second after it slunk across her back. Pern felt the hit and her eyes bulged. Right. Run.

Her feet moved again, and with the feather at hand they felt light like a leaf through the wind. "Take my hand!" she called to Hath, holding out her free hand to him, the instant they made contact Hath would feel the same lightness, too. The weight of his body and belongings less than an afterthought. Pern lead the way through the trees, holding the feather high over her head as she did so, and made to break for the open meadows just beyond the line of forest.

A heavy wind suddenly picked up, gusting against their faces and pressing into the trees.
 
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"Nonononono no stopping!" Hath shouted. The arrow striking the bag provided far more impetus to keep running that Hath's shouting.

Hath didn't trust magic. He preferred the simplicity of his home shamans. They predicted the weather and how future events might play out. It was rarely destructive or out of control. The hairs at the back of his neck immediately stood on end when he took her hand.

The magic feather did not seem to be doing anything yet. The elves were going to catch them and they were going to die. Death was part of the world. He wouldn't regret trying when the alternative had been waiting for death.
 
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Pern

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The wind picked up and trees bowed and danced under the tumult. Pern ducked through branches and weaved between trunks, tightening her grip on Hath's hand as she finally broke free of the treeline and out into open meadow. There the winds had reached near gale-force and she quickly found herself having to fight against it. Where had this sudden storm come from?

Arrows were flying in from their backs now, piercing the ground at their heels and off to the sides, blown off-course by the gale. A massive shadow swooped in across the rising moon too fast to track or make tails of its shape. Then, rather suddenly, Pern felt something whip across her side, knocking her to the ground. Behind them a great golden gryphon had touched down and issued a screeching call at the incoming elves. Their arrows broke upon a flash of white light and their pursuit came to an immediate stop.

All of the elves dropped into a kneel and bowed their heads.

Under the moonlight the gilded feathers of the great beast shone with ethereal brilliance, a bright blue glow of glyphs along her wings slowly fading from sight. It curved back, turning to face the orcs, and dipped its massive beak to inspect the scent of corruption billowing unseen off of Hath. Hackles flaring, a deep growl issued from the gryphon's chest that rivaled the rumbling of close thunder.

Pern gasped as she watched and slowly, shakily, held up the feather in her other hand, "It worked. I didn't think it would work."
 
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Hath Charosh

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"Does it count as working if it eats me?" Hath asked.

He was backing away slowly, afraid that a sudden movement would have the great creature coming after him. The elves had all dropped to their knees.

More importantly - from his perspective - they had also dropped their weapons.

Hath's gaze went from them to the gryphon, to the feather and back again.

"Should I bow? Do you know what to do with that thing?" he asked as quietly as he could. The wind still whipped through the trees or perhaps the branches still shook from the landing.

Its wings were phenomenal.
 
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Pern

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With her heart hammering in her chest about as loud and as strongly as she hammered a horseshoe on an anvil, Pern turned wide eyes from the feather to the great beast as it towered over her friend who she'd known to tower over everyone else. How rare it must be for him to need to look up at something.

"Dawnbringer!" she called to the gryphon, moving forward to try and intercede on Hath's behalf only to have the gryphon screech menacingly at her in return, "I am the daughter of Ignashush Oshric, he hash gifted me your feather. Pleashe, hold your fury! I have called you here in great need - to help my friend."

A gust shook from the flare of golden wings as the gryphon turned to her. Pern tumbled backward, still holding up the feather, and watched in awe and fright as a voice thundered into her skull. Hath would not hear it, nor would the elves.

"No! He ish afflicted by a curshe! We sheek the Apothecary Gilabree Gandy in the Shire of Oak Valley. Can you take ush there?" Pern rose to her feet again, letting the hand with the feather settle at her side as she listened for the response. Her gaze briefly flickered toward Hath, looking far more concerned than perhaps he'd like to see. Then, after a moment, she nodded to the gryphon, "If that ish the only way, we will oblige."

She dropped her bag and pulled out the journal once more, stowing the feather between the pages and securing it again. Slinging the pack back over her shoulder, Pern moved forward to Hath, "She won't allow you to ride. She doesh not trusht your corrupshun, but she hash agreed to carry you in her clawsh."
 
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He didn't know if it was the demonic presence or simply the instinctive survivor that resided in all orcs that screamed at him to run. Even Pern, though she seemed to keep it well buried, must have had the same instincts as all of their people in there.

His arrows would barely trouble the gryphon unless he caught her eyes and they were small targets high above him. He would never get close enough to use his axe. There was a chance he could make the trees and dart between them to hide, but then the elves would be back upon them.

Pern threw herself between them, holding up the feather as some kind of token and engaging in a one sided conversation with the magnificent creature.
but she hash agreed to carry you in her clawsh."

Hath looked at those claws. The talons on her front legs looked as if they could puncture the hide of a rhino. There was, he decided, no turning back at this point.

"Fine," he replied, heart hammering inside his chest. His feet wanted to run, in spite of the decision he made.
 
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