Private Tales What the Wilds Have to Offer

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Henry Bauer

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It was fucking hot.

Henry's clothes, a white linen shirt tucked into black trousers, and an unlaced arming doublet was all the First Rank Dreadlord wore. His armor, something easily replaceable, was tossed aside days ago. The saber at his side was the only weapon the man possessed, and he'd even considered leaving that behind as well.

In all his time, in all of his travels, Hal never once ventured into such awful swamp-like conditions. On more than one occasion, Henry's misstep resulted in his leg sinking into mud up to his knees, something that infuriated him to no end. He asked himself many times why his mission took him to where the Ixchel Wilds met the Iuk-'u Delta and not the Spine, where he had arrived via portal stone several weeks ago.

After wiping his brow with the sleeve of his doublet, he looked back over his shoulder. Behind him stood a familiar face, one that he almost welcomed. Almost.

"Oh," he said between labored breaths, "good. Glad to see that you, uh, haven't drowned, Florinthe."

Hal could walk for hours without feeling any exhaustion. Any Dreadlord could. But having to trudge through conditions that the pair found themselves in was another matter entirely. The ground was soft and uneven, and often gave out under them the moment they had a lapse in concentration. It was incredibly hot and humid- and the bugs. The fucking insects and their incessant buzzing was endless. Even when Hal used his magic to cool the pair off, the reprieve was short-lived.

Before facing forward again, a sphere of ice formed in his palm, and he tossed it to the woman that followed behind him.

Initially, they found an odd human village and was able to navigate the waterways of the delta via raft. Still, the old man that had guided them had simply abandoned them after a week, muttering gibberish about "the spookies" and leaving them to march for the last several days through the swamps. At least they were nearing the Ixchel Wilds, where rumors of strange and dangerous activity had been taking place. It was Hal's first assignment since receiving his ranking, and he'd chosen Florinthe to accompany him.

Talus was off elsewhere in the Spine, and frankly, Hal had no other allies to rely on. Perhaps Ademar, but he too was busy with Elise Virak. Thus the Luana Dreadlord and Virak Dreadlord were partnered.

He didn't dislike the woman, though, given their circumstances, he'd been unnecessarily abrasive with her lately. Henry could deal with most everything else; the bugs, the mud, and hell, even the rain. However, the one thing the man couldn't stand and was most sensitive to was-

"This fucking heat!" he suddenly shouted, kicked at the earth, slipped and lost his balance, and fell in the mud.

FUCK!
 
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Florinthe Othal

Third Level
Dreadlords
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Florinthe groaned for the third time in the last minute.

She trudged through the murky ground in her light hard leather armour. Each step she had taken drove her deeper into the mud. With each sinking step, the mud grew higher and higher, threatening to engulf her foot and seep through the opening of her boot. She had no weapons, save a single short-spear and a machete. Previous experience had taught her that heavy weaponry, or copious amounts of ammunition, did not mix well with the precarious footing or muddy conditions.

She groaned, again. Why had the bastard chosen her to accompany him? She was just a lowly third-rank and, aside from his cohort of former apprentices, she was one of the most junior members. Regardless, she'd been asked by her House to accept. Rumour had been that the Naga's in the delta had been making moves - whispers of an empire even - and while that wasn't her focus here, she'd been asked to confirm.

"Honestly, I wish I had." She was abrupt. Catching a single brave mosquito in her palm and crushing it effortlessly. "Who's fucking idea was it to subcontract our military out to help yokels in rural bum-fuck-nowhere." She groaned for a fifth time, but let up once the ice-ball was thrown her way. Carefully, she rubbed it against her head and then bit into the sphere. Her teeth lit up with pain from the temperature, but the coldness that swept over her body - and the subsequent brain freeze - was welcomed.

The brief stint into civilisation had been a great relief. Florinthe had barely understood the yokels, they spoke in a language that was lost to her. Thankfully, an Anirian contact had met them within the settlement and secured them a few necessities and tools to navigate this untamed wilderness. It didn't make the situation any more bearable, however.

In the end, Florinthe had had enough. Hal's stumble and fall into the murky mire had been the final straw. The endless stretches of mud were sapping her strength with every step faster than she could regain it.

She breathed.

A gale-force wind whipped up suddenly around the pair. It halted almost as quickly as it had arrived, and a flat disc of air materialised before them. She had been practising stilling the air, creating a stable platform for transport. Her master had frequently employed such magics to enable flight, but Florinthe had been unable to crack the secrets of such things. Instead, her ability had been limited to a meter off the ground - roughly.

"Right, fuck this. Hop on. I can keep us both going for a couple of hours - at least it gives us time to dry." She spoke, her voice heavy. Her throat was dry, her lips were cracked, and she came across as little more than a squeak.

"Which way are we even going, by the way? I'm sure we've passed that stump 3 times now." Her eyes narrowed as she sat on the platform. She did not want to add getting lost to her list of gripes about this mission.
 
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Henry Bauer

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Florinthe had a point- one that Hal himself pondered on many times. To dispatch a First ranked Dreadlord to the middle of nowhere, well, that was unheard of. That on top of allowing him to pick a partner for the task. Needless to say, it raised questions.

"Until it starts raining again," Hal stepped out of the mud and onto the platform. The First could have done something similar, but it would be far more tasking and definitely would not last for hours like the Third's would. Making large amounts of ice was one thing. Maintaining and manipulating it was another.

"Just," Hal looked up and could barely spot the sun through the thick canopy, "fucking east. Out of this damn swamp." He turned, to face her, a frown on his face. "We're not lost." He added on as if he knew what she was thinking.

The platform began to move east, or somewhere in the general direction of east. Not having to worry about trudging through mud gave Hal time to think. Too much, actually.

The nature of the mission was strange. A detachment of Anirian Knights were investigating mysterious activity in the Ixchel Wilds and promptly went missing. Apparently the matter is serious enough to warrant the deployment of a First, even if it is one as new and (relatively) inexperienced as Hal.

"Say," his train of thought veered off from the mission and rested on what their previous guide had said, "what do you think a 'spooky' is?"
 
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Florinthe Othal

Third Level
Dreadlords
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As the second Dreadlord stepped onto her magical platform it shimmered and buckled slightly before remaining stable. Florinthe was visibly relieved. She found herself praising herself, the gods, and whatever else might be listening internally for granting her this one boon. Now, fingers crossed, she hoped her estimations were correct and the magical transport would indeed last a few hours - although any respite, really, would ease their suffering.

"East... Really? Any sense of a particular location? Or do we just head east until we fall off the edges of the map?" She hissed, checking the bearings of the sun briefly, before directing the platform in the direction as he had requested. The little disc moved steadily, slightly faster than walking pace, and proved to be quite a smooth and effective ride.

She sighed, she'd need to hold her tongue more. Hal hadn't brought her along to spite him, likewise, he hadn't been asked to be sent on this mission. It was their collective duty after all. Breathing deeply, Florinthe glanced across the landscape, when one wasn't trudging along the incessant mire, it was quite pretty really. Flora and fauna as far as the eye could see - not a single piece of civilisation to disturb and disrupt the nature. That said, she'd still rather be at home.

Hal's question made her laugh. She'd been trying to ignore the weird individual and hadn't even picked up on his warning of spookies. "Honestly, a spooky could be anything that bathes, did you smell the people in that town?" She tried to lighten the atmosphere. It raised questions though. In a land plagued by Naga's, cannibals, life-sized insects, orcs and everything else in between... What could possibly be more troublesome than all of those? It didn't bear thinking about.

Eventually, a few hours passed and the duo began to reach the end of the seemingly neverending swamp. Before them was the vast and untamed wilderness, filled with unknown horrors and dangers. In the distance, a small trail of smoke could be seen.

"Dare we risk it?" She turned to her commander, a mischievous smile on her face.
 
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Henry Bauer

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"East... Really? Any sense of a particular location? Or do we just head east until we fall off the edges of the map?"

A single brow rose in response, and instead of lashing back at Florinthe, Hal reached into his mental grab-bag of useless information to diffuse the tension.

"Scholars from Elbion say that if you walked in a straight line- hypothetically- and just kept walking in a straight line, that you would just... eventually come to the same spot that you started walking from. Like the world is..." with his two hands, he gestured to make the shape of a sphere, "a ball."

Henry wasn't one to rise to provocation; there had been times he did, but the easygoing side of him from the Academy stuck. He was often the source of dumb humor among his old friends and apprentices, so even despite the tone that was carried in the Third's voice, he took no offense from what was said due to her frustration.

He rested back on his hands, and after a considerable amount of time, laid back on the platform. Staring up at the canopy, he chuckled from her comment.

"Do not remind me of the smell. That is an order." Another chuckle escaped from the Dreadlord.

In the hours that passed, Hal would occasionally tap the Third's wrist and send a chill through her arm and the rest of her body, just enough to act as a momentary refreshment. When the question was posed, Hal finally sat up and found the smoke through the canopy. He frowned.

"I am going to pray it is not another stench-laden village."

Suddenly, something yanked at the First and pulled him off of the platform, which had traveled over a patch of deep water. His shocked cry was silenced as he was pulled over the water, which was surprisingly clear, where he could see three or four abominable creatures snaking through the water. The creature that pulled him into the water swam deeper, pulling Hal with it. The others instead emerged from the water and lunged at Florinthe.
 
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Florinthe Othal

Third Level
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She bit her tongue and glared at Hal, before breaking out into a wry smile. She'd never thought a Virak associate would be able to read, much less understand academic texts. "Ah well, I think you'll find the current Cortosian school of thought is that the world is almost octagonal." She shrugged. Cortosi was a kingdom famed for exploration, so if the world was spherical they'd so far failed to circumnavigate it. She mused, perhaps they were just covering their tracks.

A sphere. How absurd. Everything would just slide off. Although she supposed, magic did exist after all.

"Don't worry, I won't need to remind you. We're 100s of leagues from civilisation, in a humid swamp. We'll soon smell like that - unless you wanna take a chance down there." She laughed, gesturing towards the murky silty waters that stirred and bubbled below. Florinthe had come to accept the fact she'd stink soon enough anyway. The humidity and heat alone meant that the minute you ceased washing, the sweat and grime soon reclaimed you.

Splash.

Hal was gone. She was alone. Three creatures leapt from the murky waters towards the Dreadlord. She breathed and leapt from her platform, landing neatly on a small patch of solid land that had marked the boundaries swamp. Somewhere between leaping and landing, she had drawn both her Machette and short-spear and stood in a practised battle stance. It took a few moments for the beasts to realise she had moved.

The smallest of the trio leapt first. Or tried to at least.

Florinthe's swiped her hand at the beast and, without warning, he was sucked backwards by an invisible force. She inhaled. The air removed itself from a small patch of the world, creating a lonely vacuum behind the creature. Silence. Floating, it writhed and fought against the inevitable.

It screamed soundlessly, its strange body bulging and expanding rapidly. Moments later, it exploded. The area was coated in gore and greasy flesh.

Florinthe smiled wickedly and turned her attention back towards the two creatures that remained. They circled her cautiously, unaffected by the death of their comrade. Without warning, they leapt, their spindly legs propelling them swiftly towards Florinthe. She inhaled. Her machete flicked towards the first beast. A whoosh sound was heard as the air was expelled from the world yet again. A void, a slash of emptiness, hurtled towards the creature. As if it were made of paper, the tear in the world, another vacuum, split the creature in two and bisected it cleanly.

The third time, however, wasn't the charm. The largest of the trio slammed into Florinthe, knocking her weapons from her grasp and pinning her to the ground. Its' strange fish-like maw snapped and lunged for her face, but she kept avoiding it - narrowly. She sighed. Her body crackling as lightning gathered around her. Suddenly the duo were illuminated with a brief flash of intense blue light.

She screamed as the beast fell on top of her - fried and limp. Her control of lightning was raw, primal and basic. The energy flowed through the beast and arced its way back through her body before grounding itself into the earth. Her own magic backfired and surged through her, leaving her twitching and pained.

She was rendered helpless for a good few minutes, her body paralysed by her own magic. Involuntary spasms overcame her, until, eventually she regained some semblance of control back over herself.

"Hal... Hal are you alive?" She screamed. Her body was still foreign to her, but she persevered and stood shakily onto her two legs.

"Come on Hal, you can't let a fucking fish beat you." She said half in jest, calling out across the empty swamp.
 
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Henry Bauer

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Hal had no time to take a deep breath before the creature pulled him into the water. He lost all sense of direction as the creature whipped him about under the swamp's surface. Its claws dug into his skin, though they did not rip and tear through his flesh. Nausea washed over him like a wave and having the creature suddenly slam him into the bottom of the swamp knocked what little air Hal held onto escape his lungs. He panicked and began to drown as water filled the Dreadlord's lungs.

It was an automatic movement, one made from desperation, but Hal, with his back against the swamp bed, laid his palms flat on the earth and channeled his magic.

It was only seconds, and by the time Florinthe killed the last of three creatures that attacked her, several spikes of ice and a single platform rose from the swamp. The beast, impaled in multiple places by the ice, was suspended in the air, and blood flowed over the stunningly blue spikes. Hal coughed up muddy swamp water on the platform after regaining his composure, stood up.

In his rush of adrenaline, Hal didn't even think of the annoyance that being soaked head-to-toe would entail. Instead, he hopped down from the platform and landed on a layer of ice on the water's surface. He began to walk towards solid land, discs of ice forming beneath his feet as he stepped over the water.

He fell on his knees over bloodied grass as he finally reached the dirt, still breathing heavily.

"I... hate... this place." He said between deep breaths. The First quickly scanned his surroundings and grimaced, though the expression was fleeting. He looked at the bisected creature, then the other- it still has smoke rising from it. The wind carried a surprisingly pleasant smell to Hal's nose, like grilled fish caught from a freshwater river.

The man salivated.

He did not fail to notice the static that lingered in the air. It was over a year since he killed Luther Urahil at the Academy, but Hal would never forget how it felt to be around his former friend when he cast his fearsome lightning magic. His hair stood on end, but more notably, the trail of web-like scars over his body stung for a moment. The sensation and memory almost made him nauseous.

"Are you alright?" he said, having reached Florinthe.
 
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Florinthe Othal

Third Level
Dreadlords
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"Oh really? It was just S-Starting to grow on me you know?" She twitched slightly as she spoke. A spark ran its way across her body, before eventually fading into nothingness. Florinthe followed his gaze, she'd been oblivious to it until now. Adrenaline had blocked her other senses, but now... The aroma of fried meat violently assaulted her smell. The bug she had cooked sat there and she, too, found herself salivating.

She sighed. Her lightning magic was a blessing and a curse, it was potent and quick in a pinch. It had saved her countless times when she'd been caught in melee range, but it was tricky. It was unruly and unyielding, and more often than not she ended up shocking herself or spasming from it.

"I uh... I've got an affinity for lightning. I've never been able to control it properly, it's just a last resort if I get caught out." She shuddered, the electricity that lingered in the air acting as a physical reminder of her failure.

A quick shake of her head, a deep breath and her composure returned. Her attention focused on the fried bug that had forced her hand. With her machete raised menacingly, she strode calmly towards the strange spindly fish creature that had attacked her and gutted the beast. She'd spent enough time with Zana to know how to filet a fish, this was just that on a larger scale - she guessed.

She wasted no time and hacked off one of the spindly cooked, biting into the strange meat and ripping off a chunk of flesh. It was still slightly rare, but she didn't care, the beast smelled incredible. The meat? Even better. The taste was almost like chicken, in a sense. Yet the juices that trickled out with every bite filled her mouth with a beautiful taste. She hacked off a second leg and passed it to Hal.

"I think you need to try this, it might just change your mind about this place." She spoke through mouthfuls of the flesh. Having devoured the two legs, she'd scratched off a few more patches of meat and began to tuck into them. Her body seemed to overflow with ecstasy and bliss, she'd never experienced anything like it.

In the distance, unbeknownst to Florinthe, the smoke she'd spotted earlier had begun to falter and grow. Almost as if someone were signalling something in the distance.
 
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Henry Bauer

The Revenant
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As Florinthe offered the leg to Hal, he gingerly took it into his hands. He was a peasant and had been of the lowest birth among his class. Even Talus, born to a low family, at least lived in the city. Sierra, the daughter to merchants. Luther, well, that didn't need explaining. Despite that, Selene had taught him some semblance of etiquette and smoothed out the peasant boy's rough edges.

That being said, holding the cooked leg of some swamp-beast was far from the expertly cooked meals he had grown used to under his mentor and the Lady Virak. Any thoughts of proper etiquette were fleeting, and he sunk his teeth into the meat. The taste was similar, but the texture seemed far from fish he was used to. It was delicate, with a sweet flavor and firm texture.

Tender, juicy, flavorful meat. They hadn't eaten anything like it during their travels.

"Stupid thing," he muttered between bites and breaths, "the audacity, tasting this good."

An odd numbness slowly washed over Hal as he continued to eat. First, it was the tips of his toes and fingers that became light, until that sensation spread throughout his body and made it feel as if he were floating there.

"You know-" he chewed slowly now, and looked at Florinthe with half-lidded eyes, "I had a classmate at the Academy that had an affinity for lightning. I think overall, Talus was the best of us. But in terms of magic?" Hal chuckled and shook his head. "Luther was the strongest."
 
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Florinthe Othal

Third Level
Dreadlords
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"Jeez it tastes good, is it possible for something to taste this good?" Florinthe remarked. She wasn't a particularly fussy eater, but she wasn't adventurous when it came to food. Her upbringing had seen her subsist mostly on gruel, meaning that eating to her was simply a necessity and not, as others might see it, a luxury. That said, if eating good food was as good as this weird fishy swamp being, then she'd certainly have to try it more often.

As she laid back, propping herself up on her elbows, she considered the endless swamp stretching out before her. She'd never quite realised how colourful the landscape was. Initially, she'd dismissed it as endless browns and sickly greens, but now she saw untold shades of both colours in equal abundance spattered out across the area. Pretty, if not overwhelming.

She let his words linger in the air, they washed gently over her and it took a few moments for her brain to spark and formulate a response. "That's terrifying. I've seen what you're all capable of, I don't think we had anything like you guys in my year." She paused. Her academy upbringing had been relatively uneventful, she'd been found by a Dreadlord on a mission and taken back there. Florinthe was grateful that her mentor took some time preparing her for her time in the Academy.

"You ever heard of Strul? Big meaty guy, died a few months ago. He was in my year, he could cause explosions with his punches. Used to fight the proctors for fun." She giggled, he wasn't a bad guy. The biggest and strongest amongst her year, he tried his best to protect some of the weaker ones from the wrath of the proctors.

"What happened to Luther, I've not seen him with you guys?" Florinthe, in usual circumstances, would probably be capable of leaving that question alone. A missing Dreadlord was almost certainly a dead one. Yet in her current state, the thought of death eluded her.

In the distance, a couple of miles out from the intoxicated duo. The smoke stopped, the signals ceased, and a small party of diminutive figures made their way to the Dreadlords.
 
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