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  #1  
Old 02-16-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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The Winding Stream

"Dain. Dain. Dain!"
He heard the familiar voice begging for his attention. Well, half-heard it; the world beyond that window seemed so much better, and in an hour or so he'd be out there, just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.

"Dain. Dain. For the love of the gods, pay attention, you vacant little boy..."
What was this? Ah, right.
"Ad hominem."
"What? No, we're studying arithmetic, not logic!"
"No. Vacant little boy. Ad hominem. If you want me to listen, give me a reason, not a fallacy."
He closed his eyes as the open hand slapped against the back of his head. The tutor never struck hard; if he did, it'd cost him his job, and Dain knew it. Everyday, it was the same game. Tutor tries to teach. Dain tries to get Tutor to kill himself. He was staring out the window again.
------------------------
"Dain. Dain. Dain, you worthless, weak-kneed, lily-gutted piece of land-trash! Git yer lazy arse upstairs! All hands on deck, even ye're pretty 'uns, ya' fancy-headed fool!"
He snapped awake and found his bed on the opposite wall it had started. The boat lurched again, and he slid halfway across the room before skidding to a halt. He rolled out of the bunk, stumbling awkwardly against the ship's careening list, his thoughts a fuzzy wash as the boatswain barked at him. He shoved open the hatch that led to the deck, stepping out into the driving storm courtesy of Umberlee's foul mood.

"Really." He sighed quietly and stepped out into the pelting rain, making his wobbly way to the captain at the helm of the ship.
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Old 02-16-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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"And what is it you're good at?"

He snapped his gaze up from the fire to the young woman, fully taking her measure for the first time. Impeccably well-kept, but more...natural. He took quick stock of the gathering around the fire; four others, each more outlandish than the last, save for the young woman. They were talking just fine without him before. He smiled. It was polite.

"I'm not really sure, yet."

"He's a cutpurse," one offered.
"Probably," another agreed.

They shared a laugh. He did, too. The conversation moved on, and he was glad for it. He fixed his gaze upon the crackling flames again and lost himself to his own thoughts. This new land was supposed to be dangerous but full of opportunity. He'd seen neither, yet, but it had only been a few days.

"These things take time, son."
His father's voiced echoed in his mind, almost chiding him.
"It's six days of ox dung and feathers, and one day of papers and progress." Father's old formula for success. He looked around the fire, noting all the ox dung and feathers, and then the progress.
"It's not so different," he told himself. That, maybe, scared him more than anything.
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Old 02-16-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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"Did Caspar not tell you? We have silver weapons to send back with you for your temple. Wait just a moment."

The robed woman clapped her hands, and one of her attendants left and returned with an armful of silver-made weapons; Dain fitted them to himself as best he could. He took a look at his unlikely companions: Alandrian, a wizened man gifted in healing; Radda, an elven mage, and Jeshama, some sort of winged woman. He smiled inwardly at the absurdity of it all. Three days ago, he didn't have a plan. Today, he was an initiate in the Triumvirate, transporting silver weapons to fight vampires with a cast of companions as colorful as they come. They struck out on to the road, intent on returning to the city from the Gate of the Sunderer.
----------------------
"Smoke!" the winged woman cried. Black plumes rose up over the hills, and they raced down the path to discover the source. As they rounded a bend, they saw black-garbed men picking over spilled chests and slain, charred commonfolk. The brigands saw them as they approached, and they abandoned their looting as they drew steel.

"Ah, my weapons," a more finely dressed figure addressed the companions. "You'll leave them with us."

"You will stand down," Dain began, "You are under arrest for arson and murder, on several counts." His voice didn't shake. He surprised himself. Laughter rose up among the brigands.

"Really," the well-dressed bandit replied, "we'd planned on killing you, anyway, so this works. Gentlemen..." the bandits fell about them, perhaps a dozen against the four of them. They were poorly trained, though, and the four companions had little trouble dispatching them, though the central figure was nowhere to be found.

Dain moved to the wagon, surveying the carnage, while Alandrian, the healer, moved opposite, searching for survivors. A dull thud caught Dain's attention. As he turned, he saw Alandrian face-down in the earth. Dain's expression turned quizzical, but as he moved toward Alandrian's still form, the finely-dressed brigand appeared as though from no where, assaulting him furiously. Dain, blade still drawn from the recent battle, managed an awkward stab at the surprising assailant. The well-garbed bandit deftly turned aside the awkward lunge, managing a cocky grin as Dain looked at him stupidly, his face a confounded mask of shock and despair. The rogue slammed the hilt of his blade into the back of Dain's skull, and Dain's world went black.
-------------------------
"It is no matter. We will develop a plan, and you two will personally retrieve the weapons." Adjudicator Caspar's voice echoed throughout the chamber. "You did well today, initiates."

"Hollow praise," Dain thought. He nodded thanks, but his gaze remained on the floor as he and Alandrian trudged to the bunks.
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Old 02-18-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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He cradled the instrument as one might a child, resting its neck in the crook of his arm while his other hand supported the body. He hadn't held a mandolin in seven years, since his last lesson with his esteemed tutor, Gregoire Aglion.
------------------------
"Seet up stchraight, Dain. Chin up, relax your wreests, bend your fingairs."

Dain smirked as he obeyed the tutor's instructions, his eyes rolling as the eccentric foreigner continued to bark instructions.

"Maintenant, you vill play zees vun again, mais avec...feeling. Begin."

Dain began, his fingers deftly crawling over the strings of the instrument, accurately plucking each note. He wore a discontented frown as he played, his eyes glazed with boredom.

"Non! Non, non, non!" Gregoire exclaimed. "Zut! Do you not know vhat you play, etudiant? You cannot just plaaaay zhe notes, Dain. You must," he paused for emphasis, "fais la musique!

Dain tilted his head back, regarding the ceiling with a questioning glare.
----------------------------
They had a habit of finding each other, so he was only mildly surprised as she gingerly made her way down the steps to his pool-side perch. He fixed her with a welcoming grin as she approached.

"I did not know you played," Priya began, gesturing toward the mandolin he had set against the cliff face.

Dain's grin widened in return. "A surprise for you, for once." He tilted his head to one side, then, raising a brow. "Do you play an instrument?"

"I was taught to play many instruments," she replied, lowering herself to the ground beside him.

"Aye?" He reached behind himself and grasped the mandolin by the neck, extending the instrument toward her. "Indulge me?"

The poised Sunite smiled graciously, inclining her head as she gently accepted the instrument. "Of course."

She sat up on her heels, placing the base of the instrument on the ground. One hand supported the mandolin by its neck, the other settled over the strings of the instrument. Without great fanfare, she began.

She played with hypnotic rhythm, using only a few notes, but gliding between them effortlessly. Her slender fingers pulled at the strings expertly, frequently varying the tempo of the song from a frantic, panicked gait to a slow, pensive meander.

Dain closed his lids over his light blue eyes, intoxicated by the strange melody. They snapped open as she finished suddenly, a final, comforting note tugging at his chest.
---------------------------------
"Vhen you understand zhe music, it vill touch you, Dain. You vhil feeeel it inside, pulling at your soul." Gregoire was insistent. Dain was disinterested.

"Maintenant, again, Dain. Avec feeling, Dain. Fais la musique!"

Dain stared flatly at the tutor, a brow arched skeptically.

Last edited by Lotus; 10-14-2015 at 06:08 PM.
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  #5  
Old 03-26-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Dain's booted feet echoed off the cold stone of the torchlit hallway. The quiet murmur of mumbled prayers slowly wound through the temple, and Dain's eyes were set ahead, peering into the warm gloom. He paused, reaching the end of the hallway, and he regarded the door pensively. Slowly, he reached for the handle, turning it deliberately; the heavy portal creaked open, and much brighter light forced him to squint.

"Dain, finally," one of Torm's Lionhearts remarked, "we'll teach you to move in that armor, yet. Grab a stick."

Dain found a discarded training sword; it was heavy, carved of wood and in the shape of a longsword, the weapon he had to learn to use. He stepped on to the sparring floor, the Lionheart already awaiting him, though he bore no armor or shield.

"Don't you want to gear up...?" Dain asked hesitantly, a brow reaching for the ceiling.

"No, no," the Lionheart chuckled. "Trust me, you won't hurt me; I've seen your swordplay, Tornbrook. We've a bit of work ahead of us." With that he winked, and the first blow took the breath from Dain's lungs. The novice paladin dropped to his knees, and he steadied himself with the sparring stick.

"Aye," he wheezed. "...aye."
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  #6  
Old 03-28-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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He shoved open the barn door, a slight limp in his gait as he stepped past it into the quiet darkness. Gore spattered his inspiring blue armor and still dripped from a battle axe that hung at his belt. Inside, the deafening commotion of frightened animals slowly melted away into annoyed baying. A gorgeous young woman, her hair coiled about her head and her lips barely rouged, followed just behind, her robes somehow untouched by the mess of ichor, though some blood - not her own - stained her knuckles.

"Y-you're out," the farmer stammered, "...my stock?!"

"Aye," the wearied paladin began, "the wolves are slain, your stock largely untouched."

"Yes, they're all safe, thanks to Dain," the beauteous woman added, a proud smile taking her lips.

"We managed it," the warrior corrected, finally standing firmly as he inhaled the crisp night air.

"I'm here to help," a hollow voice echoed within a helmet. From behind the farmer, a tall, thin man stepped forward. Armor covered him head to toe, but he moved and spoke with an ancient grace. "It is unsafe; the girl must come with me. Look at me, dear."

She tilted her head quizzically at the newcomer, her brow furrowed with caution and anxiety at his insistence. She thought, "How strange a request, now that the danger has passed," and then she thought nothing at all. Her eyes found his enchanting gaze, and she knew nothing, save obedience. The armored man beckoned her to follow, and soundlessly she did.

Dain's booted feet echoed off the hard earth of the Sundarian Crossroads, and he skidded to a halt in front of the armored stranger.

"You've done something to her!" he exclaimed. "She is not herself!"

"Of course not," the armored man's voice betrayed the smirk that grew within his helmet. "She is mine."

"I disagree!" The would-be hero drew steel as the other figure began chanting, his hands glowing with dark power. He finished a prayer for destruction, and a malevolent darkness sprang from his hands. As the encroaching gloom met the oncoming Paladin, its impenetrable blackness faded, its power dissipated against the virtuous warrior's zeal.

Still, the dark energies were great, and the young warrior shouted through the pain that wracked his body as he brought his sword to bear. He stroked three, four times at the armored man, and he swore he heard amused laughter slithering out of the man's mask.

The armored figure chanted again, and again he sent terrible magics into the warrior's body. The awful red glow again dimmed as it neared the Paladin, but the power that remained was more than sufficient. The young warrior hadn't the breath to scream in pain as the air was taken from his lungs. His ribs cracked, wounds opened in his flesh that no blade had cut, and quickly - very quickly - his world grew dark. He laid in the middle of the road, a silent, twisted mess of agony.

The armored figure sighed in annoyance, his limbs still crackling with terrible power. "Come, dear. We mustn't delay."

She followed him, her eyes hollow, her mind numb, and strode past the crumpled savior without a second thought.
------------------
He awoke in his temple, a host of Ilmatarii praying over him. His armor and affects sat neatly in a corner. His wounds were gone...he must have been wounded to be in the infirmary. He slowly regained his senses, though his mind remained in a murky haze.

"What..." he ran a hand through his tousled blond locks, "...why am I here?"

The clerics only offered resigned shrugs. "The kindness of a traveler, as best we can tell."
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Old 10-21-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Educated, Part I

"Do you hate me?"

"What?"

"Do you hate me?"

"I...no. No."

The teenager's tear-stung eyes rested on the rust-colored floor. He sat in a crude chair, his hands at either side, his head hung low in shame. Along the walls were instruments of torture: whips, nails, thin rods of wood, pliers, and other elements with which to creatively inflict anguish. Before him stood a stern figure, a middle-aged man of early-grayed hair with a thin build and a shrewd, hawk-like gaze. He looked disdainfully over the boy.

"You are yet weak."

"...no, I'm -..."

The boy's reply was cut short as a fist collided with the narrow bone of the boy's cheek. He lurched to the side, straining for balance, unwilling to fall from the chair, to escape the assault against the blood-stained floor.

"Do you hate me?"

"N...no."

The sickening sound of flesh and bone impacting flesh and bone echoed briefly to the high ceiling of the darkened room, and chair legs grated a few inches along the floor, uncovering trails of the floor's stone previously hidden below caked flakes of blood and sweat.

"You're embarrassing."

"You're a coward."

The familiar fist again darted in, but it was stopped by a raised forearm, the boy glaring defiantly through red, glistening eyes, his lips swollen and oozing blood. The older man smiled, his very white teeth shining in the meager light of the chamber.

"You feel that, boy? That burning in the pit of your stomach? That's power. That's hate."

"Someday...some...someone's going to hit you back."

"I pray everyday that that someone is you, boy." The gray-headed man murmured dark blessings, and he passed his hand over the boy's features. The bruised child turned away at the touch, his eyes squinting and teeth clenching against the encroaching hand, and he whimpered as the familiar energies washed over him, healing the recent bruises and lacerations, leaving no trace of the hard lesson.

"I'm returning to the city tonight. Some of my associates have encountered...difficulties...so we'll be reorganizing some things. We're still going to Waterdeep in two months' time."

The boy - hardly a boy at seventeen - nodded in silence, rising from the crude chair. He removed his blood-stained shirt, revealing the thorough network of scarring across his back: lessons that hadn't been magically healed.

"We were sparring again, aye, boy?"

"Of course. Mother will be overjoyed at the attention you offer in your demanding schedule." He threw his ruined shirt into the corner of the chamber and pushed through the door that separated the foul place from the stairs that led to the surface, to the lighted place, the charade.
-----------------------------------
"Sir Tornbrook? Sir Tornbrook.

"Hn?" The paladin blinked a few times, clearing the haze of memory as he took note of the Ilmatari standing before him, a leaflet in hand. "What's this?"

"A release of men and medicines to tend the Legion at the Stand."

"Oh, aye. That." The Adjudicator found his pen and signed the parchment, again reclining in his chair and glazing introspective.

"Sir Tornbrook?"

"Hn?"

"Something troubles you, Sir Tornbrook? Perhaps Ilmater's blessings can bring comfort."

"Gratitude, but no. I'm only remembering things."

"Things, Sir?"

"Aye. Things."

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 10-28-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Focused

It beckons me from my sleep.

Its gilded hilt reflects the light of the few torches that line my room's walls. The soft luminescence it casts flicks against my eyelids, and I have no choice but to rouse as I find myself less and less deaf to its subtle whisperings to my consciousness.

There it rests, upright and against the wall, near the wardrobe, as I left it. It stands silent sentry as I try to find rest, but its will, its impulse, is ever present. It asks me to take it in hand, to once again set forth and deliver wrath to the wicked. It asks me to do my god's work with prejudice.

I sit up, my head still awash in the aftermath of the intense magical healing I needed after the last bout. Clive grows bolder, and his hatred wasn't tempered in the slightest from his last, punctuated defeat. He returned the next night with allies. I'm told we fought desperately, but he was the victor. I wonder how long my mortal body can take this punishment. Against a foe that turns to mist when defeated and reforms no worse for the wear, a foe that does not age, I wonder how long I can be the rock that breaks the wave before I shatter...

As long as I have to. Until breath fails me. The Just God guides my hand, and I must be tireless in this struggle.

The sword tugs at my thoughts again. My eyes fall upon it, its artful hilt, it's gilded scabbard. There's the irony. The emerald. The pearls. The ornament given me by the one who feels my wounds more keenly than I, the one who cares not for my sword or my righteousness, but for me. This bed is empty without her. Her goddess has called her; I could never deny such a command. It tastes bitter. Perhaps at this moment, she warms another's bed, to satisfy her goddess. Here I lie, jealous and chilled, my company a wrathful blade that begs use.

And where is my soul? I regret the absence of a lover even as I'm called to pierce a thousand wretched hearts. Selfish. The sword and its scabbard are in my hands, now. I don't remember crossing the chamber to collect it. I sit on the edge of my bed, half-naked, my pensive gaze not really seeing the weapon in my lap. That emerald, those pearls, ask me to lay down, to sleep.

This sword is strange. It's no more formidable a weapon than I can enchant with the blessings of my god, but it reveals itself, in crisis. It has restored life. It has purged the taint of the undead from miles of foul earth. It has reduced the fellest undead to ash. I've never commanded it to do such. I ask. Sometimes it answers.

That ornament asks me to go to sleep. It asks me to stay my hand for a day, for a night. It asks me to remember my humanity, to seek comfort. It entices me, its request agreeable. The emerald catches the torchlight, and I see it for what it is.

It would stay my hand. Who will stand against the evil, if not me? It asks me to seek comfort. Who will protect, if not me? It asks me to rest. Who, then, will be tireless? It appeals to my humanity.

I reject it. Pearls scatter along the floor as I rip the ornament free of the blade. The emerald is set aside on the nearby nightstand, its glimmer diminished beneath the low-burning lamp. I grasp the blade's hilt, and I feel it, the fire in the pit of my stomach. It burns into my chest, and I feel it behind my eyes. It sustains me. I am convicted. I will master this sword and bring its full power to bear. I am ready.

I am Wrath.

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 11-01-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Renaming

Ironic. Less than a day after I give myself over to my mission, to the sacred task, the sword shatters against the flesh of the man I have hunted tirelessly for these months. The sword broken, the necromancer then hurls himself upon a mundane blade to spite me, to spill his tainted blood over the sacred floor of my sacred temple.

I am relieved of the mantle of Warden, tasked with finding another to take up that cause. Who can I ask to bear that burden? Who is capable of performing the duties? Who will honor the opportunity? Who do I dare ask to set him or herself aside in service to the state? Will it not weigh against their soul, as it did mine? Will it not strain their friendships? If they love, will it not dim their heart's flame?

I am to find one who can do the things that I will not, who can be the executioner when I would only, will only judge. I'm to find an unfortunate soul that will be the new Warden of Wrath, who will punish the agents of evil and chaos with thorough prejudice. Who do I dare ask? The heroes I respect and expect could perform this role...can I ask them to make this sacrifice?

I must. Even as I regret the sacrifices someone will have to make, I myself step further down that path. As the weight of the task grows greater, I must find one to share the burden. Who, I wonder, will shoulder this load? Who, I wonder, can walk beside me on this narrow road that seldom allows room for any but to walk behind?

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 11-04-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Educated, Part II

Embrace the pain. It drives the weakness from your body. You are a Blackmantle. Act like it!

I awaken from my fitful rest, the words still echoing in my consciousness. I dream often of home...what home was...when I don't dream of her. I sit up, and my scars stretch as I roll my shoulders forward. I hazard a glance to my left. Half the bed is yet made, undisturbed, as it has been for some time. Was I a fool before? Am I now?

I swing my legs off of the bed, and my bare feet find the floor. The wood is cold, and I shiver as I look into the cracks between the boards. I see blackness.

I reach for the nightstand drawer and slide it open. A score of pearls roll about inside, sounding like muted marbles as they carom against each other and finally come to a rest at the base of the emerald...the floor is slanted, I note. The emerald's in my hand, now, though I don't remember reaching for it.

I'm aware of the ache in my breast, and I clutch the gem tightly as I steady my agonized breaths. I close my eyes, and I see her writhing beneath some faceless lover, a calm smile on her lips as...

The gem falls from my hand, back into its drawer, and I mesh my hands into my hair, tugging at the roots as I grit my teeth against this torture, this ever-present reminder of who I'm not, of who she's not...

I know who I'm supposed to be.

It is unfinished, like me. It has a purpose, like me. It is ever ready to do its duty. When called, it answers. It protects. It judges. It punishes.

Half of the bed is yet made, undisturbed. I sought to be weak, there, to take refuge from this part of me, to lay and be held. I can not afford such weakness. Not anymore.

Not for now.

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:05 AM.
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