Pandemonium When death knocks...

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Gavin Blackfyre, May 13, 2019.

  1. Gavin Blackfyre

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    The wheel was misshaped. Gavin could tell as much by the uneven rise and drop of the end of the wagon and how this small flaw caused what should have been a smooth ride to turn into a rather bumpy one. He'd imagine the warped wheel would cause the wagon they rode upon to tilt over at higher speeds. Thankfully they moved at a relaxed pace so any fear of spilling over was erased, though they did have to live through the continuous apologies from the wagon driver who explained that a broken wheel had left him with little option in terms of replacement, and as such had no choice but to accept the current wheel if he was going to make his delivery on time and that they would have to endure the rocky trip. Gavin silenced the man with a gentle pat of his arm and a warm smile when he first told him of this. A bumpy slow ride was fine by him as the alternative would be moving on foot. He had grown tired of walking.

    A week had passed since they parted ways with Falerumasa, bidding the dragon farewell with promises of crossing paths once more. Though their parting had been heartfelt, ending a tale which would be shared over pints of ale in the years to come, they departed minus one key item. Their boat. The schooner had been lost at sea and as such, Gavin found himself in the curious position of owing his beau a replacement and he was sure the elven beauty beside him would remind him of such at every twist and turn during this leg of their journey.

    The wagon they chartered what crammed with wares, leaving the pair little space to stretch out. Wooden crates flanked them on either side, leaving a small avenue before them which meant Kestrel would have had to rest upon his lap for the most part. He didn't complain. He'd have words for when it came time to stretch of course, as he wasn't getting any younger and their trip so far had earned him a few more aches and pains along the way, but for now, he was happy. Nervous, but happy.

    "Close now... Elbion is about a hour or so away.. Should make it by day break... Damn fog is thick though...." Came the voice of the wagon driver as he spoke over his shoulder.

    Gavin couldn't see the man as the canvas cover of the wagon blocked everything, including the light from the hanging lantern the driver hung on a hook. Determined to make his schedule, the man opted to brave the darkness and continue onward. Besides, nothing ever happened in this area so there was nothing to fear.

    "Food... Wine... And a nice bath..." Gavin said, more so to himself as he was not sure if Kes had passed out along the way. He had wanted to sleep, and though there travels on the road had been easy for the most part, the closer they got to Elbion an odd sense of dread began to fill the ship captain. He wrote it off as just the the idea of them potentially falling into some foul play in the city but he couldn't help but feel something eerie was happening around them.

    Just nervous is all.. Just nervous. The thought served to slow his beating heart in a attempt to bring a calmness to him. And like the twenty of so times of him repeating this mantra, he failed miserably. Sometimes, listening to your gut was the smartest move a man could make.
     
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  2. Kestrel

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    #2 Kestrel, May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
    Setting foot back on land had been, at once, a wonderful experience and a poignant one. For one thing, Kes no longer had to worry about falling overboard and drowning, which… honestly, was a really big plus. For another, it meant that they were close to the end of their journey. Which Kes was rather looking forward to -- she had never spent so much time travelling. It was utterly exhausting.

    Especially once she realized that she couldn’t easily sleep without the rhythmic rocking of the ship underneath her. Which, was a large part of the ‘poignant’ part. Her ship -- okay, well, Gavin’s ship, but she’d just about won it fair and square, and now it was gone forever. Her poor, precious ship. She hadn’t even gotten to name it, and then they were on land once more. The ground felt firm and unyielding in a strange way that was unfamiliar and unsettling. In addition, she missed Faleru. They’d see her again, Kes was sure, but it was an odd sensation to say goodbye to a friend... Plus, walking was way more work and way less fun than sailing had been, so when Gavin had suggested they hitch a ride, she’d been more than happy to agree.

    Even with a bum wheel, it was nice. Well, nice for her, anyway, since Gavin fulfilled the role of ‘cushion-slash-bed’ rather perfectly. In fact, she’d nestled up against her captain, head tucked under his chin, and dozed off rather quickly. There wasn’t much else to do other than stare at the boxes and the one little strip of tree branches and sky they could see unless she wanted to perch on the back of the wagon the whole way, after all.

    Despite how much more relaxed she’d become around Gavin, she was still a light sleeper to a fault. A month of relative safety didn’t change what had been ground into her for over two decades at this point. So when Gavin murmured his words, as much as they were to himself more than her, she shifted slightly.

    “... sounds nice,” she murmured, then stretched, cracking one eye open. It had gotten dark while she napped, which seemed… odd to her. She had a decent sense of time, and she would have bet money (not hers, someone else’s obviously) on it not having been more than a few hours. Certainly not long enough for it to have gotten so dark, and with this… wet, clammy tinge to the air that instantly set her on edge. Not to mention, it was suddenly awfully quiet, even for nighttime…

    “Where are we?” she asked, sitting up. Suddenly, she was keen to have her daggers back on her, having taken them off so they wouldn’t jab into her dearest while she rested against him.

    Pushing to her feet, she carefully climbed to the back of the wagon so she could look up over the cover, easily balanced despite the uneven bouncing of the cart. Running one hand through her short ebony hair, she squinted forward, past the glare of the lantern light. There, between the ears of the horse pulling the cart, she could see a bridge in the distance, spanning a tributary of the river that they’d come up to skirt around Elbion to the other side. The air was cloudy, though, with this… odd color to the mist, and the water looked dark and churned up, agitated somehow.

    “... is it just me, or is the fog ...red?” she asked, glancing down underneath the cover at Gavin with a furrow to her brow. “Is that… normal for here?” She’d never been out of Alliria, after all, but she was pretty sure she would have heard stories of ‘the red mists of Elbion’ if it was a common or well-known occurrence…
     
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  3. Raigryn Vayd

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    Beneath the bridge they waited. They were not kivren, they were not of Arethil. No two looked quite alike. As soon as the wagon started to cross the bridge up and over its walls they would come. Looking for what they could drag down into the depths of the Cairou River.
     
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  4. Gavin Blackfyre

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    "Red fog isn't normal any where." Gavin replied in a curious tone. As much as he enjoyed laying about with the half held, the ominous feeling which haunted him was in full bloom now. Worse yet, he fought to maintain his balance, bracing himself against a wooden crate as the feeling of pins and needles flooded over his lower half. That's what he got not stretching his leg.

    "All is well out there?" Gavin asked their driver, his voice holding an edge as he took note they had slowed down and the whine of the horses suggested they were nervous.

    "I'm going to-" The wagon driver let out before his voice was silenced.

    "Hmm?" Gavin replied in confusion before a heavy wet thud caught his attention as something fell into the wagon form the flap Kes had parted moments before.

    It was a sound that stayed with him since he first heard it years earlier. A definite sort of sound that had weight behind it, like an exclamation at the end of a sentence. There was substance to it as well, a wet nauseating tone that went hand and hand with the thump. And though he heard it clearly, it took him a moment to register what happened as his gaze moved to the floor and he could barley make out the roundish shape. Still he knew exactly what it was.

    "Kes get away!" Came his cry as he looked up to her.

    Having hit the floor beside her and rolling to a stop between them was the head of their driver, lifeless eyes staring up at the canvas wrap that covered the wagon. Their was not pain or anger... Only confusion, as if they head could not phantom why he would be there and not where it should have been.

    And then the screaming started. Not from Gavin but from outside. And soon enough, one voice became many.
     
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  5. Kestrel

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    There was movement in the darkness, and Kes’s eyes narrowed as she tried to identify the source. It was so hard, with the glare of the lantern right in her gaze and the mist making everything so much more difficult to discern -- and then in the middle of the man’s sentence, something flew through the opening into the wagon, thudding on the floor between them with a dull, wet noise that made her stomach twist in instant, primal revulsion. She hardly had a chance to hear Gavin’s cry and no time to register what the object was before the horses began screaming, bucking and jerking at their harness and throwing the wagon around.

    The half-elf lost her footing, stumbling back against Gavin, her boot knocking into the thing that had fallen between them , causing the head to spin until the merchant’s eyes stared up at them with that frozen confusion.

    Kes clamped one hand over her mouth at the sudden rise of bile in her throat, her other hand snapping down to grip Gavin’s wrist. Instinctively, she pulled her power around them both, her natural reaction in this situation to simply hide; the world went muffled but at the same time brighter, a feeling of lightness and a pleasant tingling running through his fingertips especially as telltale indication that he was fully invisible with her.

    It seemed just in time because even as her power settled around them there was a ripping noise from above, and claws shredded through the canvas cover, rapidly reducing it into scraps and tatters. There was no more sound from the horses; Kes didn’t dare look to see if it was because they’d broken their ties and escaped or … other possibilities. Whatever was outside their wagon was certainly not friendly, and certainly seemed to be searching for the two of them… and if not for Kes’s ability keeping them invisible, the inhuman faces that poked through the newly-created holes in the cover would have quickly found them.

    Kes stared up at the creatures as they swarmed the outside of the wagon, her amethyst eyes wide with fear; she was by no means a coward, and even in the past month had faced more than her fair share of ...things. But even the twisted abominations like Drendor’s Leviathan didn’t compare to how inhuman, how unnatural these things were…

    … and Kes’s magic didn’t hide them from other senses, such as smell. The demons were sniffing, testing… searching. The half-elf’s eyes darted to where her daggers were -- on the far side of the wagon. Gavin’s scimitars had been tossed from their place on the crate by the bucking horses, leaving them just out of reach from where they currently were. She’d have to drop the hiding on them to let themselves get armed… but at the same time, there was only so much time they had before the creatures figured out where they were anyways. Best use their advantage while they had some degree of surprise.

    Still holding his wrist, she shifted -- slowly, so she didn’t drop the invisibility -- to look up at him. Her eyes went to his scimitars, then jerked her head towards her own daggers. She knew he'd follow her train of thought well enough. They weren't getting out of here without a fight, and they needed to be armed.

    On three, she mouthed to him. Holding up her free hand, she held up one finger… two… then three.

    And on three she released both of them, dashing for her daggers and drawing them in a smooth motion.
     
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  6. Gavin Blackfyre

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    More then ever Gavin found himself grateful for her unique magic which vanished them away from sight, but as he looked to the creatures which peered in he quickly realized they used more then just vision to seek out their prey. And that was exactly what the Captain and the Thief were. The horrific circumstances which they found themselves in began to become clear and Gavin found staring at one of the creatures faces, eye wide open. The head landing int he wagon was the least of their troubles giving the creature killed the man so effortlessly.

    Kes was able to grab his attention once more and he looked to where she motioned. Their weapons had been parted from them, meaning if they wanted a fighting chance, they would have to face for it. Offering a slow shaky nod in reply, he took in a deep breath and readied himself as she began her count down.

    His movements mirrored her own as she dropped the cloak of invisibility around them and he rushed for his swords. Fighting inside the cramped wagon was not going to happen so with blades in hand, he rolled out of the wagon and readied himself at once ready to face the nightmare they rode into. If someone asked him what he expected to see once they rode into Elbion, this would not have been his answer.
     
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  7. Kestrel

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    The moment Kes’s daggers were in hand, she felt a certain sort of calm settle over her. This part, she knew. Her daggers had never let her down, always there when she needed them, and once they were drawn everything became very simple. The only difference between now and the past ten years of her life was that when she lightly leaped from the wagon onto the road, barely avoiding several grasping swipes, she had someone at her back. Not something she was used to, but something she was rapidly growing partial to.

    The mist was thicker than any fog she’d ever seen now, roiling red along the ground and tasting acrid as Kes inhaled it. The yoke of the wagon was broken, the horses gone, and even the body of the wagon driver was missing as well… no sign of where it’d fallen, or, been taken. Only the sound of the river, churned up and agitated, greeted their ears -- that, and the screeching from the creatures. No birds, no other voices, no normal sounds, only that inhuman sound grating across her nerves.

    Her hands tightened on the hilts of her daggers.

    “Well, dearest,” she began in this deceptively light tone of voice, even as the creatures began to circle them, moving slower on the ground but still dangerously fast. She had no doubt that if either of them were dragged into the water, it’d be over instantly… and so, she coped the way she always did. “The next time you invite me on a leisurely and comfy wagon ride through Elbion, I think I’ll pass…”

    One of the demons snapped forward, a testing swipe at Kes’s left side; seeing how easy of prey she was. It got a throwing dagger between its eyes for its trouble, Kes having deftly transferred her daggers to one hand to do so. Another dagger went whistling through the air to peg another of the demons -- and then the next was too close for throwing daggers and she brought her daggers up to block its swipe, dropping one into her other hand to stab forward, black ichor spilling forth. Withdrawing it swiftly, she brought it in a ferocious slice upwards, cleaving clear through another reaching claw.
     
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  8. Gavin Blackfyre

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    "One day-" Gavin said as creature tested him and swatted at his blade with a clawed hand only to let out a screech as it's arm returned, minus it's hand which fell to the dirt path oozing blacken blood. "-we'll have a normal outing.. Things normal couples get to do.

    Though he tried to remain calm by way of comical banter, his mind was racing with what could possible be causing such a thing to take place. The thick acrid fog surely had something to do with the appearance of these creatures, that Gavin was sure of. He continued to this train of though, trying to piece together the puzzle at hand as he fended off another creature who replaced the one he defended from moments earlier. A quick glance to the others who appeared from the fog confirmed their steadily rising numbers and the fact no two looked alike. The monsters were the product of a nightmare come to life, horrific and demonic in appearance and it was then Gavin stumbled upon the idea of the origin.

    Another creature was maimed, his blade slashing across it's eyes to rob it of it's vision before he plunged his scimitar in the chest of another one and paused long enough to watch the light fade from it's eyes. Gavin was ever watchful as he knew every bit of information they could gather could save them. He watched as the creature he blinded stumbled back, widely wiping at it's face before rebounding a charging forward. Despite loosing it's eyes, it's attempt at trying to tackle him was surprisingly accurate as it honed in on the Captain. Smell or a good sense of hearing, which ever guided it allowed it find it's way to him once more. Gavin however moved quickly to the side and severed the creatures head from it's misshapen shoulders. The captain barely had time to recovery when his blades met the clawed hand of another creature who's strength was fearsome, causing him to stumble back.

    "We need to run." He quickly let out, realizing that the chittering screeches of the creatures were quickly multiplying and soon enough, they'd be fighting against more then they could handle. "There!" Gavin motioned to the sound of the river. Kes wouldn't like this plan at all, but what else could they do ?
     
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  9. Kestrel

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    Normal outing. Hah. It drew a soft, dry laugh from Kes, brief because it was punctuated by the clang of claws hitting her dagger, barely deflected away from grabbing hold of her upper arm; not for the first time she missed her leather breastplate, the armor piece currently in one of the bags in the back of the wagon, still bearing the giant hole from where she’d been shot with the arrow. She was certainly missing to the extra protection, especially when it came to ripping demon claws…

    She dropped in a crouch as a clawed hand went overhead; she would have dropped further back, kept letting them step into her, but she couldn’t, not without baring Gavin’s back to attack. So instead she surged forward, her dagger slicing out and through the demon’s neck, kicking the body back towards another demon who surged towards her, the creatures going down in a tumble of claws and screeching

    Breathing hard, the half-elf glanced towards the captain as he gestured towards the river, her amethyst eyes widening as the implications of what he was saying set in.

    “What? No!” she protested, slicing her daggers through the air and scoring one of the demon’s forearms to the bone. It bought her a small degree of room, but she wasn’t made for fighting large mobs of creatures, not in her fighting style, which was all quick killing blows and feints, and not with her daggers, weapons of a much more up close and personal combat style. More were crawling from out of the mists, both in the direction of the river and from other routes through the mists and the trees.

    “You know how I feel about deep water --” she began, heatedly, the idea of plunging into water that she couldn’t touch in redoubling her efforts as she dodged another lunge only to drive her dagger into the side of the creature’s neck, shoving it away from her. “Now double that for deep water with monsters in it!”

    But they were rapidly losing even the brief periods of rest, the mist getting thicker and darker around them… and Kes wasn’t sure what other options they had. She had just enough time to grab her bag from the wagon and sling it across her chest, adding Gavin’s to her shoulder, too, before backing towards him once again.

    “Set the wagon on fire,” she said, a bit impulsively, gripping her daggers a bit more desperately now. “That keg is rum!”

    The moment the fire reached the alcohol, it’d explode -- and give them perhaps the best chance of actually getting through the throng of demons around them to some chance of safety.

    “And then I swear you’d better not let me drown!”
     
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  10. Gavin Blackfyre

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    She didn't take nearly as much convincing as he thought she would and that just confirmed how dire there situation was if she agreed to his river plan. Battling along side Kes back towards the wagon, he set a frantic pace of dodging wild attacks from the creatures while striking out against them. They moved with a wicked feral-ness absent in normal animals he confronted in his life time. It was easy to see they were savage to a point where they wished to maim and kill and Gavin was not eager to sate their bloodlust.

    Sparing Kes enough time to fetch their bags, he carved a path towards the river, his scimitars whirling with deadly speed in accuracy cleaving anything within their path. He found himself short of breath as they pressed forward and wondered if it was the relentless waves of creatures they faced of the acrid air itself. Regardless, Gavin pushed on following the sound of the rushing water. By now it was a wild frenzy, the creatures climbing over the bodies of their fallen breathen and even pushing past each other in a bid to get at the pair.

    "Don't worry, you won't drown." He assured her as they race towards the river, Gavin taking the lead and then vanishing from sight moments later and leaving Kes behind as he slipped down and stumbled down the embankment. The thick fog prevented him from seeing and just like that, he was tumbling down to heavens only knew what await them below by the water.
     
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  11. Kestrel

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    As Gavin began to cleave a way through the demons towards the river, Kes tarried only long enough to grab the lantern that had been hanging next to where the driver had been and throw it into the bed of the wagon. The lantern fuel cascaded across the bed of the wooden structure, settling around the base of the keg that contained the rum. There, that would buy them a suitable distraction… if her plan worked even remotely close to what she was hoping.

    The half-elf hurried to catch up with her beloved, even as the flames began to lick at the barrel. The demons didn’t seem to notice, only clawing at her and Gavin, deflected left and right with her sharp dagger strikes.

    The bank came out of the mist faster than she would have expected, and she half-stumbled, half-slid down next to Gavin. There in front of her was the river, choppy and agitated, though by what she couldn’t see. The mist was so thick here she couldn’t even see the opposite bank, and for a good moment, Kes seriously considered taking her chances with the horde of angry demon-creatures. Instead of this roiling, foreboding river, and the knowledge that it was deep and fast and filled with monsters. She’d woken up from nightmares similar to that in a cold sweat, and now Gavin wanted to drag her in real life right into it.

    Before they could take the plunge, however, there was a sudden explosion from behind them -- a flare of light and heat that they could feel even through the mists as the keg finally ruptured. It scattered the fire-feeding alcohol across the ground and the remains of the wagon, drawing the attention of every one of the demons nearby…

    Kes seized the opportunity, half-pushing, half-pulling Gavin back into the shadow of the bridge that they were just about to go over with the wagon, pulling her power around them once more. The noise of the river was enough to drown out the sounds they were making and the wind eddied around them, muddying up their scent… hiding them, for now.

    A reprieve before plunging into the water… she didn’t know for how long before the demons sensed them again. She also couldn’t keep the invisibility up around them forever. But… she stepped a bit closer to him, her eyes sweeping to the water as another little shiver went through her. Maybe… maybe they just needed a moment to think of another plan. One that didn’t involve certain death.
     
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  12. Gavin Blackfyre

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    The trip down was not as graceful as Gavin could have hoped for, the captain tumbling down before he righted himself and slid the remainder on his rear. His head was swimming, wondering if he had hit his head at some point before the distraction Kes had arranged rang out. The rum served it's purpose perfectly, lightly the area in a orange light which was followed instantly with a loud boom.

    Gavin scant had a moment to gather himself as Kes pulled at him and he found himself dragged along under the bridge. He looked around, looking the upturned earth and realized that the creatures sprung from this area at some point. Their safety was not guarantee here and more then ever he was convinced in his plan to use the river. Looking to her he could read the hesitation in her face and did the only thing he could at that moment. Despite using her magic to place a cloak around them, there was no escaping the situation that befell them with out doing what she seemed to fear most. His blades were sheath, pack hurried taken from her and tossed over his shoulder and he pulled her by the straps of her own pack and pressed his lips against her own. It was a deep passionate kiss that ended far to quickly, especially since he used the moment to steady himself and then sneakily take her in his arms to near toss her over his shoulder.

    "Now or never." He told her as he bounded for the water as the creatures curried rushed down the slope in search of them. The water was apologetically cold and thanks to the time of night, inky black in appearance. Not at all appealing. Splashing into the water, Gavin stumbled but remained standing as he waded in and once he was waist deep he allowed the current to take them. With no horse to ride away upon and no boat to sail, they were at the mercy of the quick moving river. Despite her feelings, he'd taken drowning to being torn apart any day.
     
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  13. Kestrel

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    Kes had to focus hard as Gavin moved, not doing the best of jobs keeping the invisibility up around them both -- it was so much harder when there was movement to account for -- but doing a pretty good job of it. It helped that she could hear the creatures moving just above and beyond them, drawn to the fire and hissing and screeching as they investigated the light and noise. Good motivation to flex magical muscles she didn’t even know she had with adrenaline pumping hard to fuel it.

    Then he pulled her forward and kissed her… and for a moment, the fear that sat like an ice cold rock in the pit of her stomach eased away, thawed by the heat of him and brushed aside by the trust she had in him. Somehow, at some point, she’d come to trust him more than perhaps she’d even realized.

    Certainly enough to let him pick her up and wade into an inky black, demon-packed river, which she was pretty sure was right out of her worst nightmares.

    “I hate this plan,” she protested, one last time, just in case this ended up with them dying horribly. Wrapping her arms around his neck and curling her hands into the straps of his pack, she glanced behind them to see several of the creatures just spotting them -- turning towards them in full preparation to pursue them. “They see us,” she began in a word of warning, but before she could continue she felt him lose traction, and then suddenly they were floating, plunged into the water so icy cold it rushed the breath right out of her and made pins jab at her exposed skin.

    The bank rushed by, red mist and black inky shadows, but Kes had barely any time to pay attention to it. All she could focus on was keeping her chin up above water as much as possible, grabbing breaths when she could, and not tightening her grasp on Gavin and choking him out or anything untoward like that. They weren’t alone in the waters, either, as evidenced by at some point something grabbed at her ankle, her immediate response to kick at it furiously. She was just about to think -- hey, this isn’t the worst thing ever -- when something must have grabbed on to Gavin or his bag, dragging them deep under water.

    Inky blackness covered her head, her grasp on Gavin failing as the currents tumbled them apart -- and suddenly she was without him, alone in the water, and terrified.

    Abruptly, blessedly, her boots hit gravel and she pushed herself up and onto the bank, scrabbling up onto safety, gasping at air. Coughing up a bit of water she’d inhaled, she ran her hand back over her hair to slick it out of her face, casting about around herself.

    “Gavin? Gavin!” she called.

    She didn’t even recognize this forest as where they’d been. Instead of tall leafy green trees overhead, the trees were tall and spindly and brown, grasping branches looking more like knobby fingers. The ground squelched underneath her boots, the whole sky obscured with a ruddy brown cast. And in the woods, the sound of creatures she didn’t recognize, sounds that shivered down her spine. They were, at least, alone on the bank, not in the middle of the throng of creatures as they had been before.

    “Gavin!” she called, one of her daggers finding its way into her hand again as she searched for her captain.
     
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  14. Gavin Blackfyre

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    "Kestrel!" He yelled out into the darkness frantically turning about in search of the half elf before falling to his knees. His head swam, and dizziness threaten to take him down completely but he fought against it. A dull throbbing pain blossomed into a splitting headache and the captain winced, raising trembling hands to the back of his head to tenderly touch the source of his pain.Through his thick dark curls he felt around and when he pulled his hand back to inspect, he could see clearly the dark crimson that stained his fingers.

    Gavin fought through the fog of having been unconscious and the literal thick reddish fog that swirled about him and tried his best to focus. He had washed up along the river, alone and cold. Both details were cause for alarm, as he entered with Kes in his arms and now she was gone. He had promised to keep her safe and for all he knew she could be... Don't go there, she's more then capable.... He shook the thought aside knowing better then to doubt Kes's ability to survive as he fought through the shivering that plagued his body. He was cold... A feeling that was extremely foreign to him as he had not been cold in years. That was a second cause for alarm. Now would be a good time to come back.. He thought and waiting in silence to see if the Blackfyre, the entity which inhabited his body, would reply back. Nothing... The same as when they had parted ways from the dragon.

    Struggling to stand, Gavin dragged himself completely out of the water and looked to either side. The area looked vastly different then where they had been. He knew the surrounding area around Elbion to know he no longer stood near the magical city. "If not there.. Then where...?" He questioned as he fought to hear past the sound of the river and soon enough he was able to make out the sound of movement, bodies shuffling through the forested area beyond. He had no proof besides the tightness of his stomach that told him he was not listening to the woman he loved and so he hobbled off, moving as carefully as possible. His shout moments before would attract them and so he looked to put distance between himself and the creatures.

    All the while Gavin kept glancing around, hoping to see any sign that Kes had passed by. All he needed was a sign, anything to point him in the right direction as he hobbled along, sword in hand and hoping the nightmare he found himself in would come to an end... The thing was, Gavin was fully aware that hoping and knowing the truth were to distinctly different things. The truth of the matter was that Gavin knew, the nightmare had just begun.
     
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  15. Kestrel

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    Kestrel Infiltration and Acquisitions Specialist

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    Into the dark woods, Kestrel's call echoed amongst darkened trunks, her keen eyesight catching glimpses of movement. Pale and flickering, so not Gavin, or too large to be Gavin, and either way, if she kept shouting, they would notice her. She pressed her lips together, gripping her dagger until her knuckles were white-tipped betrayals of her fear.

    Gavin. She had to find Gavin. Her mind didn’t even allow her to consider that she wouldn’t or that something would have happened to him. Ifs and what ifs could wait until after they were back together. She just had to think, stay clearheaded. Upriver or down, those were her two choices. Separated, he’d look for her one of those ways too. They’d only been separated in her experience for what had seemed like an eternity but the clinic part of her brain recognized as only about as long as she could comfortably hold her breath, so that wasn’t far enough for him to be out of ear’s reach if he had climbed out before her.

    Downriver, then.

    She hoisted her bag, soaking wet and heavy against her shoulders, a little bit higher, and turned downriver. Not for the first time, she wished she could keep her hiding up while moving, but even as she reached for it, it felt… off. Not warm and tingly like it normally was, just within reach, but rather distant. Not right. Something about wherever they were made it feel different, and not in a good way. So she gripped her dagger and moved silently downriver, hardly making a sound as she did so.

    She’d been walking for a few minutes when there came the sound of something moving towards her, something larger than a rabbit but thankfully not the size of the colossi. Gavin? One of the demons? She didn’t know, but it was moving towards her at a steady pace. Unable to use her hiding, she did the next best thing -- tucked herself into the corner of a tree, her fingers finding the last throwing dagger still tucked in her thigh sheaths…

    …. And then Gavin appeared through the mist and gloom, and Kes felt relief like a wave of warmth rushing through her. He was limping and there was blood down the side of his face, but he was on his feet, and she’d take it.

    “You look like a guy who forgot orcs don’t like hugs,” she said, stepping from her hiding place so he could see her, her voice tight despite the forced levity of her comment, a throwback to the very first thing she’d ever said to him, oh so long ago in his apartment in Alliria. She waited until he’d realized it was her, since he was likely on high alert in this horrendous nightmare of a landscape, then stepped forward to wrap her arms around him tightly. He was injured and she needed to take stock of that and help him, but she wanted him in her arms, first.
     
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  16. Gavin Blackfyre

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    Gavin Blackfyre Captain Blackfyre

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    And he needed her in his arms. Pain forgotten, he embraced her, lifting her up even and took two shaky breaths as if the moment threaten to break him. "Kes I'm sorry I didn't mean to let go." He began to apologize. She needed to know that he meant to keep her safe and despite her sweet and comical words to him, hearkening to their first meeting, he couldn't bring himself to laugh. He was a man who held a sorrowful look as if he had failed the woman he loved, because in his eye, he did. His apologizing would have continued if not for the sounds of the brush moving just beyond. What ever was stalking the grounds above them was moving to the bank it seemed, perhaps to investigate the noise the pair had caused.

    Relieved to have her back, Gavin pulled Kes away and hid behind the rock she had emerged from. As much as a relief it was to see her and as a close as he was to having a moment, he was still aware of the situation they were in and didn't allow himself to simply fade into their reunion. Sitting beside her, he dared not peek over else risk staring into the face of... Of what? The thought echoed in his head. What where the creatures they fought? Where did they come from? Where were they? To many questions and not enough answers. So instead, he began to think about what he did know.

    They weren't in Elbion and the creatures were not human, at least as far as he could tell. For the first time since meeting here, Gavin realized that he didn't have a plan. Even in their travels with the dragon woman Fal, he had a plan or was able to at least help in come up with one. Now however, sitting besides the half elf soaking wet and shivering, his mind drew a blank, and out of everything they face, that was perhaps the most frightening.
     
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  17. Kestrel

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    Finally, thankfully, Gavin was there, wrapping his arms around her in return and Kestrel felt that knot at the base of her stomach ease a little bit. They were in a world that she didn’t recognize, with monsters out of her worst dreams skulking through the mists, and yet with him right there she didn’t feel so hopeless or afraid. She’d never had someone like that, someone who made her feel strong and brave and capable… She hadn’t realized how precious it was.

    Then he was apologizing, and she shook her head, intent on blaming the monsters or the river or the hellscape they were in -- but she didn’t get a chance, because something large was moving in the brush and Gavin pulled her back into the little cubby she’d ducked out of. She went, willingly, sliding her pack from her shoulders and setting it down as she did so. Putting a hand on Gavin’s shoulder, she nodded to indicate he should rotate around so that she could check out the back of his head where the blood was coming from.

    The air was bitterly cold especially given that both of them were soaking wet, and for the first time since she’d met him, the cold seemed to affect the pirate in front of her. It seemed his magic was as affected as her own by… wherever they were. It wasn’t a cheery thought, but at least Gavin’s wound seemed mostly superficial. She breathed a quiet sigh of relief, reaching out and squaring a piece of material so she could press it to the wound to staunch any more bleeding.

    “Damn that bath sounds amazing right about now,” she noted, with a soft, brief chuckle. “What mess have we gotten ourselves into now, my cap’n?”

    Her amethyst eyes traveled across the bit of the murky forest that she could see. They had somehow found themselves in a world she didn’t recognize. One that didn’t feel at all like their own…

    Moving around to sit down next to him once more, she leaned into him for warmth and moral support even as she reached into a pocket of hers and produced … his compass. More than a month together and there was certainly no indication that those wandering fingers of hers were ever going to stop. Flipping it open, she took one look at it, then closed it with a sigh. “Doesn’t work,” she noted, handing it back to him. “Any idea of how to navigate in a dreary ass forest with no apparent north?”
     
  18. Gavin Blackfyre

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    Gavin Blackfyre Captain Blackfyre

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    He moved at her request, unspoken words understood in a display of the chemistry they held between them. As she tended to his wound and commented about the bath sounding amazing. Truth be told, mucking up a full stable of warhorses sounded amazing at a time like this. Hey question about the situation they now found themselves in grabbed his attention and he was still struggling to even come up with the faintest of ideas. Gavin was no stranger to libraries and did in fact like to read but in all his thumbing through countless tomes, he did not recall reading of such a strange occurrence taking place.

    He felt as she lifted the compass from his pocket and welcomed her touch, fully aware of how worried he had been before and how the fear of losing her had not subsided. And then she asked her question and he rattled off answers as quickly as possible. "Navigate by the sun... Stars... All of which I don't see... Land marks... We keep the river to our left... And keep walking... We may not head north but we will be heading in a single direction... Can't get turned around that way."

    Sound advice, which was about the only thing he could offer until he knew more. "With any luck... We'll come across someone who knows what is going on.... Ready to move?" He asked as he shifted about to look back to her. Judging by his expression, Gavin was trying his best not to appear to worried though as he looked to her and offered a faint grin, this much was clear. They were in a very bad place and Gavin wasn't sure this was something they would be able to escape.... For her sake though, he'd die trying.
     
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  19. Kestrel

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    Kestrel Infiltration and Acquisitions Specialist

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    Kestrel’s amethyst eyes swept up to his face, watching him as he spoke. He looked down at her and offered a grin… but she knew him. Maybe not the way someone like Jaenessa did, cognizant of all of his past adventures, but she’d watched him for a month, through assassin attacks and near-death experiences, through dragons and pirates and swordfights… and the only other time she remembered seeing him look so worried was when she’d had a giant hole through her chest. Not great if they were at that level of concern.

    Reaching up, she cupped his cheek with one hand, leaning forward so her forehead rested against his own. She didn’t say anything, just ran her thumb along his cheek, taking a moment to just … touch him. Letting her presence, the trust that she had in him, the fact that they were together, cut through the gloom and the danger that surrounded them.

    They didn’t have long, though, and Gavin came up with a sound plan. The half-elf pressed her lips together, not exactly keen on the idea of wandering back along the river that had just nearly drowned her…

    “There is another idea,” she mentioned, eyes resting on his face steadily. “We could head in the direction of the magic.”

    She knew he’d be able to feel it -- she could feel it, and her magic was much less trained and honed than his. It was like a constant breeze, or a quiet humming, though it couldn’t be felt or heard. There was something in the mists, something that was a source of magic strong enough to be felt even without being in sight of it. But it wasn’t without substantial risk. The source could very well be the origin of these creatures, with both of them cold, tired, and at a lack of their magical skills… not great odds.

    “So, river and potentially wandering around in this horrible forest for who knows how long… Or head towards the magic and potentially a horde of demons ready to rip our heads off.” She chuckled, humorlessly, as she got to her feet, holding out her hand to help him up as well. Shifting her pack onto her back once again, she glanced back out of their hideyhole towards the mist-soaked forest before looking back at him. “Let’s just sail, next time. Less demons on the open sea.”
     
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  20. Gavin Blackfyre

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    Gavin Blackfyre Captain Blackfyre

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    Direction of the magic? His brow needed to confusion as he had felt nothing but cold. The separation from the Blackfyre had been more serious then what his imagined. He had been dependent on it for so long with out even knowing until it had recently introduced itself during their stint traveling with the Sea Dragon. Yes Gavin was able to use magic, he just never realized how much the Blackfyre added him in that endeavor.

    A shaky breath taken, he fought through the fatigue and plowed through the headache that plagued him and focused. He focused on what she describe, a source of magic. He clawed through the darkness of his mind, searching, reaching out for something that was just beyond his grasp and when he felt he couldn't reach any more, he felt it, the faint whispers of something out in the distance. A beacon, for what he knew not.

    He said beside her, tears flowing down his good eye and he nodded. "I... I feel it..." Damn his head pounded. "We go with your plan... Eat some rations first...Drink... We know not when we may have a chance like this... Kes... When we make it through this I'm going to marry you and we are going to sail every where.... I'd rather deal with sea dragons then monster filled woods any day of the week..." He wiped at his face and tried to compose himself. He had kept this disconnect from the Blackfyre from her for a while now and he saw no reason to have her worry even more.
     
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  21. Kestrel

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    Kestrel Infiltration and Acquisitions Specialist

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    Kestrel’s brow knit slightly as she watched Gavin close his eyes and focus with obvious work -- she’d just assumed that he would have felt it, same as her. It was like a whisper just outside of her hearing, one that made no noise whatsoever, but had been there since the moment she’d clawed her way onto the bank. Certainly not the degree of effort it seemed to take him, and that made her concerned that maybe the bump he’d sustained on his head wasn’t as superficial as it’d initially looked. Her thumb skimmed along his cheek, wiping away tears of strain, as he opened his eyes once more, her amethyst eyes taking a good look at his good eye. No signs of a concussion, but…

    Kes would just have to be twice as strong as before, make sure she could protect him and he could take it easy. With that resolution in mind, she nodded in agreement to his statement about eating and drinking… then he continued and she just stared at him with this incredulous adoration.

    She still didn’t know what to make of it that he wanted her, for life, for a life with her... She’d never been anything special or important, but to Gavin she was, and that was precious… precious enough that she’d effectively thrown away everything she’d known to be right here, next to him. Exactly where she belonged… even if Father didn’t think so. In fact, thought the exact opposite, that she was a fool for believing any of this. But more and more, Kes wasn’t sure how she could ever believe that any of this was false.

    “Here,” she said, digging the canteen out of her bag and handing it over. Thankfully they’d had decent enough foodstuffs in their bags, anticipating a long walk from where they’d landed to Elbion, and most of it should have survived getting wet. “Eat, you golden-tongued rogue, and save the proposal for somewhere a bit nicer, yeah?” She grinned. “Maybe like… hm, on the deck of the boat that you owe me?”

    There. Light banter to keep their spirits up… and then into the mist they went, into the very heart of this nightmare.
     
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  22. Gavin Blackfyre

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    Gavin Blackfyre Captain Blackfyre

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    He was missing a eye but the captain was far from blind. He could see her attempts to lighten the mood and was grateful for the length she went to. Canteen accepted, he smiled as he sipped from it, her words reach him despite the fog that befell him. Her affinity for pet names shined through and matched her skill for reminding him of what he owed her. "You know you marry me... My ship becomes yours.. Just something to think about."

    He posed the question as he dug around his own bag and from it, pulled free a white clothed used to wrap jerky. He promised silently that when they finally made it, he'd treat her to an actual meal... And share a actual drink with her... And laughs, and smiles... And endless teasing which alluded to desert that would be served in a more intimate settling. All this in more when and not if they made it out. A normal night not under distress. He thought all this while passing the canteen to her followed by jerky where he in turn sat and began to gnaw. He put aside the thought that a creature lurked just out of sight ahead of them... They would cross that bridge soon enough, but now, he needed energy no matter how meager.

    "Blue... Your dress... It should be blue... Blue is a lovely color on you."
     
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  23. Kestrel

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    Kestrel Infiltration and Acquisitions Specialist

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    Kestrel took the canteen and the bit of jerky from him with a murmured thank you, leaning into him lightly, for both warmth and the reassurance of his presence, as she chewed on the dried meat. It tasted a little… fishy, probably from being dumped in that gross river, but it was sustenance and they were going to need all they could get if their plan was to go into the heart of this godforsaken forest. So she ignored the acquired taste and forced herself to down it and another piece.

    True to nature, however, Gavin saw her attempts to lighten the mood and was more than ready to give her more than enough to work with. Including tempting her with the offer of a ship. A big ship, she imagined; she’d yet to see the Rocinante but she’d heard enough about it to know it wasn’t the little schooner they had taken most of the way to Elbion.

    “Hm, first I’ll change her name to The Chubby Penguin. Then we’ll paint her sails bright purple… and her hull a nice lime green.” She grinned at him, those amethyst eyes of hers impish with her teasing… at least, until he brought up the color of her dress and her gaze softened again, just taking in the profile of him. Dammit. World of nightmarish creatures and here he was, making her insides flipflop like nothing else. Who gave him permission to affect her like that… was doing nothing for her ‘tough as nails’ street cred.

    “Blue it is,” she said, reaching up and touching her upper chest with two fingers as if to reassure her that the pouch pinned to the underside of her shirt was still there. It contained two things -- an amulet with a broken ruby set inside of it, and a small, rough hewn blue gemstone. Important things, which was why she kept them tucked in a pocket that not even a pickpocket of her caliber could get to. “Though I'll have you know I haven't worn a dress since I was a little girl, so laugh and I'll tickle you to death. Scarlet, for your jacket? I’ll get you a nice hat. With a big feather, so you can be appropriately dashing.” She grinned, and pressed a kiss to the corner of his lips.

    Full(ish) belly and thirst sated, she tucked the canteen back away, her gaze drifting to the forest they could barely see.

    Well, then. Time to see about this nightmare. She got to her feet, brushing the dirt and leaves off of her pants before looking over her shoulder at him, extending her hand to him. “Well, my cap’n? Shall we see about getting the hell out of this place?”
     
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  24. Gavin Blackfyre

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    Gavin Blackfyre Captain Blackfyre

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    Her color choice for the Roci was atrocious as well as her name and he would have called her out on it but that was a playful argument for another. Besides, he now had a color to go with for the wedding they would eventually plan and it was a wondrous thing to talk of such with out having properly proposing. Yet another thing to add to the agenda once then made it out. The soft kiss returned, she left him sitting there with the smallest smile on his face and purpose a return to his true form.

    "Yes... Hell out of... Hell?" Were they actually escaping Hell.. Was this the underworld? It was close enough in his mind. What a amazing tale this would make.

    His shivers had faded thanks to her body warmed and Gavin was confident enough to move, and so he did, peeking from over the rock they hid behind and happy to see nothing.

    "We can move down to where I came from.. it appeared clear... And then we can held up... Move smart.. Move quietly... let's assume that there are no end to these creatures.... And Kes... If I fall.. You have to go.. Promise me you go... Same goes for me... If you fall.. Which you won't... But if... I'm going to make it out of here." He said it hoping she believed him... He needed her to if it meant her living.. Because if something happened to her, he was not leaving. There was something tremendously selfish about his request but he had lost someone dear to him before and he would not relive that. He would go down taking as many of the damned beasts with him... But somehow.. Hoping she survived this ordeal even if he wouldn't... That seemed right... About as right as such a sad outcome could be at least.
     
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  25. Kestrel

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    Kes couldn’t help the dry chuckle that slid from her at Gavin’s comment about getting the hell out of hell, making sure he was on his feet and adjusting his pack so that it sat more comfortably and wouldn’t bother him while they walked. She also took the moment to make sure his head wasn’t bleeding from the movement… fussing, in her own, quiet way. He bore his worry one way, she bore it in the fact that she readjusted his sheaths twice to make sure they were perfectly accessible even with the bulk of the bag on his back.

    Then he was making his statement… about promising to leave even if he fell. That he’d leave if she fell. And for a split second, she could hear Father’s voice, Captain Blackfyre hasn’t helped a person a day in his life if it didn’t get him paid. Was that this, then? The first chink in the armor revealing the truth?

    Irritation flushed through her, at Father for those thoughts, at herself for allowing them even the slightest of space, at Gavin for giving them an in. Because she knew, in her gut, how hollow those thoughts rang.

    “You haven’t treated me like I was stupid at all before now, so let’s not start that,” she said, her tone decidedly sharp. “You and I know that’s bullshit and neither of us is leaving the other no matter how many pieces they’re in.”

    She wasn’t even sure why she was so irritated. Maybe the idea that she might leave Gavin behind… maybe the fact that a month ago, before knowing him, before understanding how precious he was, how much she needed him… she might very well have. This whole thing had started because she had decided that her survival would be more assured if she let some “dumb sod” potentially take an arrow for her, and now here she was, knowing to the very core of her, that she’d never let that happen. She had one place to be, one place that she was meant to be, and it was right at his side.

    “Look,” she continued, her voice dropping, softening. “I know this is probably… because of Tivinia. I don’t know what happened, but I know you carry it like a weight you’ll never put down. But there’s two things about that. First, I’m not her. I’ll put a dagger between the eyes of anyone who tries to separate us, happily. Second… I know you didn’t let her go without one hell of a fight. And … I can promise the same. They’re going to get to you through me and they’re going to have a hell of a time doing so.”

    Reaching up, she ran her fingers along his jawline, amethyst eyes quietly intense. “We both get out, or we both stay. It’s us. I’m all in. Got it?” She smiled faintly.
     
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