Wednesday, October 18, 2017
   
Text Size
image
Welcome to the home of House Ancora! House Ancora (HA) is a fellowship of online gamers dedicated to promoting cooperation, role-playing, and merriment in company with one another across the varied landscapes of today’s online gaming environment. We firmly believe that friendship transcends any gaming environment and is independent of any specific style, genre, server, or realm.

Book One - The Elven March to Westgale

Written by Teran - Page 5 of Book 1

The assassin knew an attack was coming, the stranger had something to hide, and apparently nothing to lose. Even as the assassin sensed the stranger's dagger appearing in his hand, twin blades appeared in his own hands.

Teran threw the dagger in his right hand towards the stranger while pulling the reins of his horse around in an attempt to avoid the incoming blade. The assassin's blade went wide and he heard the sick sound of tearing flesh and his horse's cry. He knew what would come next and was prepared for it.

The horse leapt on it's hind legs giving Teran an excellent view of Gadianton. He released the reins and threw the dagger in his left hand down at the elf that had been captured.

After releasing his second blade, Teran pushed hard against his stirrups propelling himself up and away from his dieing horse. The assassin hit the ground hard however his momentum carried him off the road parallel to Gadianton. The assassin wasted no time getting to his feet, closing the distance between himself at the stranger, careful to place one of the few trees this near to the road's edge between himself and his adversary making a shot with his stolen bow that much more difficult.

Written by Archeantus

It was as if lightening had struck leaving a flash of awe. The sudden duel attack had actually stunned the seasoned Gadianton, and more so the blade that skimmed across his face moments after he had thrown his dagger. The man had anticipated his attack. Such intuition was rare in a fighter, Gadianton knew this, and knew it well. A sliver of red streaked across his face, neat and clean. As the moment passed, and the opposite horse reared fully, letting out a cry of pain, yet another blade was launched, this one found its home within the elven ranger’s leg.

Gadianton was dazzled; fascinated by the show of skill, it had been a long time since he had come near death at the hands of another, and he reveled in the challenge. A strange sort of laughter could be heard amid the deepening trees surrounding the road. Though death had whispered in his ear, he had never felt more alive.

Riding outward, taking the bow in his hands, an arrow notched, he rounded the horse's course, and skimmed the area. The man had quickly hid himself behind the nearest tree.

The moment had passed.

He accomplished and discovered what he wished to discover. Reaching behind him at the struggling elf, strapped sideways across the horse, he pulled the blade from his leg, which emitted a muffled scream. Looking at the blade carefully, twisting it in his fingers, he was impressed enough to take it. Quickly he sheathed it beneath his cloak, his dark eyes mockingly anticipating the time it would be used once more...

Then, renotching his elven bow, which was highly engraved with intricate symbols, he fired the arrow at the dying horse, finishing his job. A moment later he loosed another arrow.

Riding further away, he swept his hand across his face and felt the gash, which would soon be a scar that would be with him for the rest of his days. He smiled grimly, but it faded, leaving nothing in its wake.There on the other side of the tree which Teran stood was the second arrow imbedded only a breaths length from his heart.

Written by Teran

The assassin watched Gadianton gallop off.

"Life goes on..." he muttered, promising that he would see the stranger again in the near future.

Teran walked to his fallen horse and removed the blade from its throat. He examined the blade closely, cleaning the horse's blood off on his cloak. He sheathed the blade, planning to hand it off to one of his contacts to determine its origin.

The assassin removed his cloak and spread it over the corpse of the horse. The assassin began walking south, following the path the stranger had chosen.

Written by Turin Wallace

Walking back to camp Tadrien in a rather annoyed, and unplayful fashion, says,

“We will see about some food later. Accosting a ranger is punishable by death, whether you meant harm or not. You’re a strange beast, so leniency may be delivered when we relay our story to the Lady of our camp. But be warned, any trouble or mischief from you and it will be dealt with severly.”

To drive the point home, the rangers following had their bows already knocked and at the ready. This is not to say the Elves are ungracious hosts, but with war on the horizon, the camp preparing to break for the morning march, and a second unknown walking into the camp, trust was in short supply. It was better to be cautious rather than friendly at this stage.

Stopping near Umeawen’s tent, Tadrien enters and in a moment they both re-appear. Umeawen looks over the beast and says,

“It certainly seems harmless enough. Give it some food.”

Tadrien went off to find something for the cat-beast to eat. In the meantime, Umeawen says,

“I apologize if the reception is not a warm one, but we are preparing to move in the morning. If I may, what is it your are called and what manner of beast are you?”

Umeawen listened to the response and says,

“You are welcome to stay in this camp for the evening so long as you do not cause any trouble. Good eve to you.”

The night passed without incident and in the morning the camp broke and left the area of Thornton and made it’s way towards the inner lands of Grayshire. Keeping to the back roads, Ithramir led a few raids on Beridain’s columns, which resulted in very few casualties on their part. The same could not be said for those in Beridain’s service. He wondered how long would Beridain play the fool and how long until news reached his ears about his missing men, and who was fighting against him. But for now, it mattered not. Ithramir and his people had the edge in this game, and he intended to keep it that way.

After a few days of traveling, Ithramir and his rangers closed in on a small hamlet near the port of Westgale. Spying that the place had a small tavern, Umeawen says,

“Shall we go take a look, milord?”

Glancing back at Umeawen, Ithramir replies,

“Yes, perhaps there is some info here we can glean from these humans and our sea-faring kind.”

Ithramir then gives the orders for the rangers to meld into the forest until he calls for them to assemble once more. He wasn’t going to take chances this close to Westgale, and he knew it would be impossible for these humans to even take notice of his people when they were being stealthy. Plus, the night was a miserable one, with a torrential rain pouring down…and it was to continue for a few more days. This would keep most inside except those brave or stupid enough to be in such a downpour without good cause.

As Ithramir, Umeawen, and few chosen rangers rode into the hamlet, Ithramir whispers to Umeawen,

“I trust you will behave yourself this eve?”

Umeawen’s cheeks turn a ruddy color as she replies,

“That question was unnecessary, milord. You know I still grieve over what happened so long ago.”

Softly, he says,

“I know, dear sister. As we all have, in some manner or another. No offense was meant, forgive me.”

Nodding in Ithramir’s direction, Umeawen indicates that she does. No sooner than this is accomplished then they reach the front of the tavern. Tying up their mounts, the group makes its way inside, and finds a suitable table to sit down and dry off.

Their presence does not cause the least bit of disturbance, as there are plenty of their kin already inside the tavern. Ithramir only watched with muted interest as he watched those called Sea Elves mingle in with the humans. This is not to say Ithramir dislikes humans, or that even Elves as a people dislike them, but those that call the sea home are often the most bawdy of their kind as well as the most seen. Ithramir simply chuckled at the thought of the stories these humans must tell about his people.

It was then that the music began and he and Umeawen noticed the two half-elves in the crowd. To human eyes they would appear as one of them, but to an elf their heritage was shown quite clearly. He would never have given it another thought if he had not seen the look on Umeawen’s face. Looking at where her gaze fell, Ithramir almost immediately knew what it was to cause her to look that way…

Written by Vylia

"Umm, I don't want to be rude regarding the food, but I don't suppose you have any meat in this camp? I could only smell a lot of vegetables." Watches as the being named Tadrien walks off into the camp .

"My name is Keeryn, and I'm a Cyatin. What's your name and what are you? And what is with this army anyway, don't you think it's a bit silly to be trying to kill each other in the afterlife?"

The next morning Keeryn woke up just before dawn to see the soldiers readying to move out so she decided to find the elf lady she met last night to see if she couldn't go along and find out what all the fuss was about. After about 5 min it was obvious where she was, directing the crowd, "Hello again Umeawen... I don't suppose I could travel with you for a bit? I was getting bored in this forest all by myself."

Written by Archeantus

By the time the night swept the dirt road, dark clouds had enveloped the sky and soon there was a steady downpour. The Elven cloak he wore had the strange property of repelling the rain, leaving him perfectly dry. He veered off far from the road, and entered the nearby forest, planning to camp there for the night.

Years the rogue had spent alone and had learned to be resourceful, for soon he had a fire going. Seating the elf against a tree, he sat across from him in the fire, and began to set another fire within Lithian's vulnerable heart. For the remainder of the night, Gadianton filled him with hate. He recounted his deed of murdering his brother over and over again, and boasted that there would be far more to die by his hands. When the elf tried to ignore and sleep through his threats, he would beat him with his own sword with the hilt. He spoke with such conviction and contempt that the elf attempted more than once to rush him from across the fire, but his cords bound him to the tree. Soon Lithian's eyes was full of utter rage. Gadianton looked longingly into those eyes and pressed even further as if his hate fed him.

As the hidden sun behind the clouds rose, Gadianton finally stood, having tormented the elf all night, and set forth again, anticipating he would arrive to relate his precious news to Beridain by mid morning. The rain still poured, and the ground was wet and muddy. Gadiaton checked the elf's wounds, dressing them, despite Lithian's eyes which could have killed the rogue by themselves. Soon they were traveling once more and an hour later, they could see Ancora's spires jut through the fog in the distance.

The gate captains saw the strange site far off, a rider that looked to be an elf, and a passenger strewn on the side. They gave him trouble when he arrived at the gates but shut up when he bore the royal symbol Beridain had given him. He went straight for the King's chambers located in the inner section of the city. Captians often stopped him, and they were often shown his insignia, which meant he had free reign to go as he wished. They never saw his face, only the symbol. Coming to the elegant home of King Beridain, he untied the elf, and carried him into the inner court where the King was to be found seeing to his fledgling kingdom.

As soon as Beridain saw the unforgettable rogue approach with his captive, he immediately ordered his servants away.

"What have you found out?" Beridain whispered, still slightly intimidated by the mere act of doing business with the man before him. The past couple of nights he had had nightmares, and his fear heightened upon seeing the real thing once more.

Gadianton stood there for a moment, and then pulled the elf forward and untied the gag that stunted Lithian's speech.

"Tell him where I found you." He commanded the elf with a swift kick to his wound in his leg.

The elf snarled in pain and spat on the ground in defiance.

"I'LL KILL YOU!" He screamed finally. His pent up anger filled the room.

Gadianton simply waited. Beridain waved his guards away as they came to check what was a matter. He had no love of elves, and had received many reports of a possible elven force which sought to rise against him. Yet he hadn't heard anything concrete, nothing to help him determine how he might prepare and where he might send his troops.

Walking over to the elf, who was struggling with all his strength to free himself, Beridain stepped upon Lithians chest and demanded to know what it was he knew. Lithian breathed hard looking the king in the eye and laughed hysterically.

"I killed 10 of your men personally!" He yelled, his mood changing suddenly.

"Where?" The king tightened the pressure of his boot upon Lithian's throat.

Lithian tried to laugh again but choked, and could do nothing else but reveal where he had come from. Above all else, he swore he would survive, no matter what the cost. He could not die at the hands of this upstart human king. He had obtained what he had through murder and intrigue. He was sickened to be in his presence, and his hate grew all the more.

He yelled once more, so that all those in the general vicinity could hear him.

"You cursed humans! I am Lithian of the house Tegeneron!! I am sworn to uphold the balance of this world, like my father before me and his father before him! Your kingdom will be swept from your lifeless fingers!!" He coughed finally as his strength and endurance was no more. He breathed heavily and searched for what inner dignity he had left.

"How many were there?" Beridain questioned Gadianton seeing the elf nearly faint with exhaustion.

"Beyond seven thousand." Gadianton said smoothly. "More than likely more, I came as soon as I discovered this information."

Beridain had a smoldering look upon him, as he was quick to anger and looked at the elf down on the floor as if he represented those who wished to take what he had worked for so long. He kicked the elf in the back savagely. Gadianton watched pleased to see the fires of war begin to ignite.

Quickly now, Beridian ordered his advisers in for knew his time was limited and knew the elves were out there planning an offensive. Gadianton was forgotten in the commotion, and so was poor Lithian. The rogue took the elf once more and left without anyone noticing. He tied him up once more and placed him upon his horse. Then, riding out of the city once more he took Lithian and untied him once he was far enough.

"Go. You have no use for me now." Gadianton whispered through his hood amid the falling rain. The little light there was in the morning haze shone upon his elven cloak, slightly illuminating the glossed elven material. Thunder rolled mightily.

Lithian slowly stood in utter shock. Quickly he then faced the tip of his brother's arrow.

"Leave or die now." Gadianton whispered intensely, holding the bow ready to be loosed.

Lithian lingered not knowing what to do with his freedom.

"GO!" Gadianton hissed ominously, his arm which held the bowstring pulled ever more slightly back. "Go and find your kind, tell them what you have seen and heard, and come in your might!"

The offer was unbelievably tempting, Lithian finally turned, still believing he would get an arrow in his back, but as he walked he never felt the deadly sting. He never looked back, and soon he ran. Ran away from death, and soared to his revenge.

Gadianton finally lowered the bow, and watched the elf fade into the rain. His eyes lingered on the tracks the elf blindingly made.

"They are all puppets." He thought to himself reveling in all that he had done. Gadianton, the silent rogue, and the vicious heart of the coming war.

Turning his horse back to Ancora, amid the slashing rain, he then went to find his disciples.

Written by Teran

Rain poured from the sky with so much vigor that the forest canopy offered hardly any sanctuary from the rain at all. The assassin sat in the driving rain with his eyes closed, he was resting after a day and a half of walking. He hovered in the realm half way between sleep and awake pondering how much farther his destination was. He came to the conclusion that Ancora was only hours away.

He climbed to his feet and continued walking through the night and half of the next day. When he finally reached the city of Ancora he blended in with many of the other well traveled individuals that shuffled past the gate guards. He wandered through the city, seemingly aimlessly.

He first stopped to visit an old "friend", to whom he gave the dagger he had dislodged from his borrowed horse's throat. He doubted he would get any useful information from the blade but it was one of a few options he had.

The assassin's next stop was a tailor where he purchased a cloak, dyed a pale blue/gray. He wrapped himself in his new cloak and continued on his way. Teran had everything he needed, now all he need do is wait. He slowly waded his way through the throng of people clogging the streets, moving towards a poor excuse for a tavern that many of the shadier men and women of Ancora frequented.

He entered the tavern, glancing at the other patrons before finding a seat. He ordered the local specialty and sat back, appearing to relax while he waited for his "friend" to meet him.

Written by Pharsalus

"GUARDS! Arrest these men!"

More thumping of boots resounded from distant halls outside. Geirik was running out of time -- he had to get back to shore, and this first-mate was the means by which that was going to happen.

Geirik stood to his full height at last, brushing off papers, quills, and miscelleaneous dust and debrit from his person, taking a moment to survey his surroundings before making any major decisive strikes. The quarters were small, far smaller than what was normal for such a high-ranking officer. He began to form the impression that this was not, in fact, the first mate's actual cabin. He puzzled only a few moments before a blade was thrust into his face.

"You, there! Who are you!?"

A moment of silence passed as Geirik's temper began to fume. The old scruff of a Bounty Hunter turned his gaze -- slowly -- toward that of obstinant little bastard that spoke. Geirik was not one to think before he spoke, and this occasion was no exception. Before he could check himself, his temper and ego took the reigns as he barked out a retort.

"MY name isn't important, Skaner welp! What IS important is that we have a little.....talk..."

Before his lips finished forming the syllable, his wrist flicked and the sound of blade upon leather flittered faintly. Before the Skaner mate realized what was going on, Geirik had positioned himself up against his person, chest against his, with a short sword held against his neck. The force of the motion sent the Ironskane first mate's sword tumbling haphazardly against the right wall.

"Now," Geirik continued, "I'll tell you what we're going to do -- YOU are going to get me off this light-forsaken boat. YOU are going to give the orders to tuck-tail and run to the nearest coast line. I have a date in Ancora, and I'm not one to be late."

There was a nervous pause -- Geirik's eyez seemed to take on a sinister light in the poorly lit room. Had the first mate not felt the breath his assailant against his cheek, he would almost think this was a walking dead holding a blade against his neck, for his features were tense...clammy...and his eyes black and devoid of any life.

"I...I will do...n..nothing of the sort! This c...craft w..w...will not be used for your....dire purpos...."

Before the man could finish, he went suddenly silent. A great moan resounded throughout the ship....then another...followed by a great rumble and the almost deafening sound of wood and chains shattering beneath the fury of one force or another. Both men began stumbling this way and that, dodging whatever wasn't nailed to the wall or floors, as the cabin began to rock. The very ship seemed to cry in protest as its innards were broken, splintered, and tossed aside. Geirik was the first of the two to regain his balance, being fairly light of foot for a man his age.

Wha...!? Whatever the bloody hell that was, it has come with impecable timing. Time to get off this wreck!

The sounds of war began raging anew above deck, this time with a great gurgling roar. At its first sounding, both men in the small quarters looked up and around them to ensure their own safety. In the same instant, Geirik placed the sound with a specie:

An Ogre...!?!

He hadn't time to question or criticize the overall usefullness (and safety) of having an Ogre aboard a boat in the middle of beast-infested waters with no adequate way of restraining him -- this was his chance to break the will of this First Mate long enough to get himself off the ship. He hated what that involved, and he knew its risks to his person and everyone else's...

It must be done...it is for the good of the Family...

Before anything else could disrupt the scene, Geirik closed his eyes only for a moment to unbar the doors that had held his inner demons at bay for so long. In an instant, as wolves released unto the herd, dark energies began to work their dire magiks. The air about the cabin suddenly dropped to well below chill's thresh-hold, and the light from the oil lamps on the wall shuddered and dimmed. A very distraught first mate's jaw fell ajar as he watched the man in front of him become nothing but a shadowed outline in the haze and thick of dark.

Indeed, Geirik had changed -- one would think his form a shadow and of no substance if he had not just witnessed a fleshling man standing there in a dank, dark, and eerily cold cabin only moments ago. But now he was as the shape that played along the borders of vision and blindness, like shapes seen at the edge of the eye in a darkened room. Standinly only paces from him, the First Mate's lip quivered and eyes blinked as his assailant's eyes, once completely hidden in misty shadow, now burned a dim, purple blaze. The hairs on his neck stood erect as he watched this hellish transformation transpire -- he could only imagine what evil had unleashed itself upon his boat and his person. He could only stand frozen...and watch.

On his interior was shown a different scene -- one of desparation and exasperated effort, not evil and malintent. Geirik waged a war against a shadow. On the bleak field of his inner concious, two figures brought blade against blade in battle that had raged for what seemed an eternity. Geirik was hard-pressed to remain focused on the issue at hand as his thoughts and vision jumped between inner thought and reality and back again. Terrible memories flashed before him as they always did -- screams, hissing laughter, darkness, cold...all came as a storm and struck his soul with blasts of unrelenting hatred. As he had expected, his humanity began to grow dim and distant...

His thoughts were interrupted by the stammering seaman before him.

"W...w.hatever you are, p...pp..lease....I...I'll get y..y..ou off...just.....just...don't kill me!"

The first mate's voice became almost a whine. There were a few moments of silence -- even the scuffles between the Pallanonian forces and 'Skaner crew had quieted. Geirik knew why -- the black fire he had unleashed upon himself was not satisfied with only his person, for long had Geirik's body been its temple and caretaker. It throbbed and pulsed outward with invisible tendrils that sucked the courage from any creature within a considerable radius of its center: Geirik.

As through a dark and dusted window, Geirik watched the scene and, realizing the First Mate's state, began fighting once again for control of his own person. After a few moments, Geirik's features became less tense and more tangeable as the light and temperature in the room approached normalcy. His eyes returned to their usual emerald as a smirk etched itself across his face.

"Excellent -- it's settled then. Surrender your men and your boat, and get me off this boat...and I might not take your head for a small profit. Emphasis on small, of course."

The first mate was still rattled as he slowly passed Geirik toward the door. He paused at the portal, looking back, unsure of the nature of this Bounty Hunter that had stumbled into his existance and, by some otherworldly means, shattered his seaman's pride like a maiden's mirror. With a pale face and mouth still ajar, the First Mate stepped into the hall where fighting had once commenced and yelled as loud as his lungs could manage.

"STOP! STOP THE FIGHTING! ...... WE SURRENDER!"

Geirik forced a smile, despite his weakend state. His stomach felt nauseated and his shoulders heavy -- a small piece of himself had become a small price to pay for accomplishing his ends. He shook his head some to clear the mists from his eyes and thrust his sword threateningly into the back of the First Mate as they set for the stairs to the upper decks.

"Very good, First Mate...ehm....?"

"...Whitestead..sir..."

"....Whitestead, then. Very good, First Mate Whitestead...you have saved yourself and your men much displeasure in fulfilling my desire to touch ground. Now...WALK!"

He thrust the blade forward, making the Whitestead yelp and scuddle forward to avoid being run through. They made their way through the halls and up the stairs leading to the main deck.

Chaos met them at the door -- the deck was stained red and laiden with piles of corpses scattered here and there, some still resembling human remains, all mangled by the Barbarian's axe. A very wet Barbarian threw his second leg over the rails of the ship with the aide of men bearing Pallanon's crest, and nowhere could be found the corpse of the beast that Geirik had felt battling for its life only moments ago.

Geirik only puzzled over it a moment.

The Barbarian had long ended his fury, picking off the stragglers that dared charge against him from behind barrels and buckets. More of the Pallanon forces began to board the ship, sliding down ropes and thumping their way across great wooden planks placed between the two ships (which had apparently moved since Geirik had last seen them).

Geirik motioned for the First Mate to stay put and await his return as he moved toward the Barbarian with both blades drawn and hackles raised -- he could not take chances at this point. It was not until he was only paces from the brute that Geirik immediately recognized his face...

"By the...!? Jagan!? The infamous Jagan Talonmane!? I've heard many a story about you, sir! None of them mention you as a sea-faring man, however."

Geirik smiled and sheathed his blades with an almost arrogant confidense. Wiping his hands after securing the hilts, he continued.

"It is not every day I've the pleasure of company with such a skilled armsman -- tell me, about which subject would a Barbarian, of all people, wish to speak?"

Written by Aethelwulf

Seeing Mavigan, her clothing clinging wetly to her lithe form, slowly undulate to the beautiful elven womans music caused a sharp pain to flash through Alaric's head, and Wilhelms words only seemed to exacerbate the feeling. Sighing, he shook his now throbing head and muttered under his breath..

"So much for maintaining a low profile...."

Lao silently moved closer to him and whispered into his ear. The crowd was becoming lively as the music wove its way through the smoky air. Sighing again, he finished his ale, and moved with Lao to be near his queen....just in case a patron or two got the idea that Mavigan was fair game. Glancing up at the mysterious elven lady leading the small group of musicians, he smiled as he noticed her watching him out of the corner of her eye, then an uproar from the crowd drew his attention. Mavigan seemed to be performing some sort of sultry dance that was enflaming the hearts of the drunken host. Grimacing, Alaric leaned against a post and tried very hard not to notice.

Written by Ariana

Mavigan closed her eyes and let the music fill her. She blocked everything from her mind save for the rhythm that now flowed through her. She allowed it to guide her and her body began to unconsciously move in concert with the beat. Her life was filled with chaos and confusion, but here, she was in control and she need not focus on anything but the now. Mavigan was content to throw herself completely into the dance, allowing her emotions to pour out of her through her movements. She was content, that is, until she felt a stray hand caressing her butt . . .

Written by Wilhelm

Wilhelm saw Alaric watching Mavigan closely, while acting as if he were not. Leaving Mavigan's personal safety to Alaric and his colleagues, Wilhelm turned his attention to the gowing number of patrons in the common room, which was now almost full. Placing himself in a light trance, he scanned the life forces in the room. There was Mavigan on the dance floor, with Alaric, Lao, and Koric watching over her. On the stage was the elven singer Rowan, Shimur the reed player, and Amnor the drummer, and the other musicians. Over at the bar was the affable innkeeper Boric with the barmaid Sonya, who was chatting with the young patron that had just danced with her. Slumped over the bar was the other musician, Vorindel.

In a booth across the room was a party of five elves that had recently entered. The leader was Ithramir and the apparently related female was Umeawen. Before the other names registered, Wilhelm paused in memory. Most of the elves he had met were Sea Elves, who had a distinctive rolling gait from their months at sea, if you knew to look for it. These five instead moved catlike, much like some rangers he knew. That was very interesting. These bore watching.

Written by Archeantus

It was mid-day, and the rain still relentlessly poured. The guards, now recognizing him as one who bore the royal seal, let him through the massive Ancorian gates.

Now it was time to make the large city his own. For the next day, the rogue scoured every nook and cranny, from the large stone walls and battlements, to the network of sewers that ran underneath the city. He followed and discovered secret passages used by the royal family in case of emergency. He tactically plotted escape routes, defense positions, vantage points. When he was finished, he found himself atop the battlements alone overlooking the lay of the land, the rain pelting him. He imagined in his minds eye the eventual battle that would erupt here; he saw the humans and elves fling themselves at each other. The catapults launching their craft. The battering ram booming against the gates. He pictured hundreds and thousands littered across the landscape as the dust cleared. He would stand in the middle of all the carnage and glory in his handwork. Though he felt a shade of satisfaction in what he did, deep down he knew nothing but misery. His heart was devoid of hope for it had died long ago when he was a boy. This left him with nothing to love and nothing to live for. He lived in a perpetual state of jealousy. Looking bleakly at the wet landscape in its dismal state he vowed he would bring this strange realm down with him.

Tired of the scene, he finally turned his attention inward, not to the city, but to its people. They milled about below him, off on their own pitiful lives. Somewhere among them, he would find those who shared his views, and it would be them that would rise above the coming war and enjoy its spoils. Money. Power. Fame. All were the cards he could offer, and to some, if not many, they would do anything to obtain just one. Even sell thier very souls. And so with a determined step and a watchful eye, he stepped down from the battlements and hunted for souls.

Ever since the bloody takeover and King Pallionian's death, Ancora had become a breeding ground for the malicious and ill hearted. In one fell swoop, Beridain had demoralized the whole city. By his own devious actions, he unwittingly robbed its citizens of law and order, for soon, like moths to the flame of sin, came the realm's worst. And it was these that Gadianton methodically watched like a vulture in the sky. To find the realms worst one has to look where they are glorified. The guard’s encampment was littered with past claims of bounties, and these he watched, looking at their sum, and judging the weight of their merit by their bounty. There was one that stood out from the common thieves and brigands. One bounty was worn and tattered above all the others, which meant it had been there the longest. Pulling the newer ones from their nails, he tunneled to his prize and saw a portrayal of the face of a man with rich dark hair. His name was Teran Witherblaze. He asked the guard concerning him and he was told he had yet to be captured.

"They see the sum of money and off they go, but none ever come back." The guard shrugged carelessly.

"Except one." A cold voice interjected. Gadianton turned to behold a man sitting in a dark corner, resting against the back two legs of an old wooden chair. Immediately Gadianton knew here was one who resembled himself. The man was draped in a black leather trench coat, and wore a black hat, which was pulled low to his dark eyes. His boots were propped up on the table carelessly, and in his gloved hands was a smoking pipe, its writhing gray puffs hovered out of his mouth.

"If you raise the bounty, I'll go after the damned fish again." He intoned.

"Fish?" Gadianton questioned, still weighing the stranger in.

"He's slippery." The man explained. "Add another 200 gold pieces, and I'll be motivated once more to find him."

"Why would I want you?" Gadianton continued.

"You don't know who yer talkin' to, do ya?" The stranger nearly laughed.

"No."

"Another damned fool!" He yelled out to all present. Tipping forward, the stranger stood flamboyantly, yet calculatingly. A few street urchins darted up to the front of the growing crowd; apparently this was a common phenomenon.

"I am what they might term, --oh what was it they called me?" He tapped his chin, which was covered with a morning beard. "YOU!" He pointed at one of the boys that watched him admiringly. "Tell 'im."

The boy instantly piped in with a thick street accent. "Dats Vermigard Destrado. And dat's," He pointed. "All da criminals he's brought'n."

Gadianton looked across the room and saw another board that read, "Apprehended." and was chock full of photos.

"I am the greatest bounty hunter these lands have ever seen. No man can run, hide, or outsmart this fox." Vermigard slyly whispered trying to mask his giant ego. Though he appeared to be putting on a show, Gadianton discerned he was no actor.

"Then why isn't this Teran, over there?" Gadianton toyed, pointing to the other side where the captured men were posted.

Vermigard lost his smile suddenly and looked carefully at the hooded stranger. His flamboyant air vanished and his eyes flashed dangerously.

"Teran is worth more than his posted bounty." He whispered, almost to himself.

"I see." Gadianton said. "Tell me Vermigard, why do you hunt dangerous men?"

"Why? The money of course." He responded. "Life would be so dull without men and women who demand society pay to catch them."

Gadianton nearly laughed. The man amused him, which would normally had been dangerous, but he represented one who could further his own ends dramatically.

"If you are the greatest, then hunt me, and we shall see how good you truly are." Gadianton unexpectedly said.

Now it was Vermigard who nearly laughed.

"By midnight tonight, if you have not found me, I'll come hunting you, and one of us will not live through tomarrow." Gadianton said.

A slight smile edged into the bounty hunter's face.

"You don't understand--" He began.

"One thousand gold pieces if you can find me." Gadianton added, playing the rightful card.

"Ah, you catch on quick." Vermigard corrected.

A moment later Gadianton was gone in a flurry of grey-black.

"You die if you don't pay up!" Vermigard yelled out as the rogue dissapeared.

Vermigard shrugged, and took his seat again, eyeing the light outside.

"Boys, get me my shackles."

Ten small figures rushed toward the worn shackles across the room like loyal dogs chasing a thrown stick.

Written by Ariana

Mavigan reacted on instinct. She quickly reached behind her and grabbed the offending hand on her posterior. Bending the fingers of that hand in the wrong direction, she was satisfied to hear a yelp of pain and the removal of the offending appendage from her person. She yanked forward on the hand bringing the body it was attached to towards her at the same time she reached behind her with her other hand preparing for a punch. Striking with as much force as she could muster, she punched the man squarely in the chest watching with satisfaction as the man flew backwards through the air. He landed flat on his back at the feet of a group of elves.

"Pig!" she shouted as she narrowed her eyes in anger. Seeing no further movement from the individual, she turned her back on the scene. Muttering under her breath about how males were little more than animals, she tried to regain her focus on the music as she once again began to dance.

Written by Archeantus

Startled out of his constant scanning of the crowd, Alaric smiled as he saw Mav punching a lout that apparently had accosted her in some way.

"Ah well, if the lass is going to swim about in the muck, she is bound to get a little on her.." Nodding as Koric moved in and grabbed the thug, roughly moving him further away from Mavigan, Alaric watched as his Queen danced a dance that he had thought only ladies of the evening knew. Ach. This lass was going to be a handful, for certian.

Written by Rowan

Rowan was not so carried away with the music that she was unaware of what was going on in the room. Years of experience singing in bars had taught her that she ignored the mood of the crowd at her peril. Excitement was good for profit but disruption was not.

She took note when the dark haired man and two of his friends rose from their table and approached the stage. They were obviously intending to protect the dancer from any kind of trouble. "And the way she is dancing," Rowan thought, "trouble could come along any minute now..."

Which it did. Although Rowan didn't see it, obviously someone had gone too far with the girl, because she startled out of her dance, spun around and laid the offender out flat with a blow that would have decked a horse. Rowan exchanged glances with Shimur who was trying to keep playing, but the grin on his face was making it difficult. As the girl went back to her dancing, Rowan decided this was the time to give the red-haired man his song.

Turning her back to the crowd, she made eye contact with the drummer and bobbed her head at Shimur, signalling a solo in half time. As the sounds of the reed wailed out over the crowd the mood began to shift palpably. Rowan pulled a pair of finger cymbals out of her pack and struck them once, again, and then raised her voice in the familiar words of the Bridal Dance.

Restore Default Settings