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  #11  
Old 09-07-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Implacable

She slithered through the shadows in hilly nooks that surrounded the commons outside the Second Wind Inn, her black, fitted leathers gliding soundlessly through the tall grasses as she spied her target. There he was, again, that fool of a paladin, standing in the open, laying claim to the night; her night.

Oh, the arrogance of it all. He and his special sword, pretending to ward the rest of the mortals against evil, playing at the savior. She reminded herself not to hiss at the absurdity of it all. It would be over soon enough; the Warden, slain, and his sword, lost. She slid her dagger from the sheath behind her shapely thigh; its blade was wicked and still bore the sickly purple taint of poison. Good. Dawn was but moments away, and that zealous moron would let his guard down soon enough. She crept forward, slowly at first, and soon broke into a silent sprint, her path in line with the paladin's back.
-----------------------------------------
Dain allowed himself a little grin, his chest deflating with an airy breath. The night passed without incident and in the most pleasurable company imaginable; his dearest Sunite, the esteemed Priya Sera, had taken a hiatus from scholarship at the University to see him. To see him. His fair, blue eyes glistened with apparent adoration as he laced his fingers with hers, admiring her natural glow as the first rays of dawn broke over the distant horizon. She smiled up at him in return, dark, lustrous eyes binding his gaze, and the paladin reveled in that small moment, the weight on his burdened heart easing for a handful of precious seconds. His lips parted to form speech, but only a sudden, pained gasp came forth.
-----------------------------------------
The dark-clad vampire congratulated herself with a wicked grin as her blade expertly found a seam in the Warden's thick armor, her dagger driving into his side, all the way to the hilt. There were perhaps ten others around the commons, now eying her with shocked gasps as she spilled the lifeblood of the Triad's champion. Let them watch the hero die. He'd be defenseless, now; she'd trained for long years in the arts of paralyzing with a blade. He'd had no chance to move, to defend himself; she knew she struck truly, that his nerves would fail him. It was a curious thing, then, when she went to retract her dagger for another stroke and found her wrist held fast.
-----------------------------------------
The agent of Wrath stared down at the hapless vampire, his left hand having shot across his body to seize the thing's wrist. His eyes burned with righteous fire even as the creature's widened in surprise, in sudden anxiousness. His right hand reached up over his shoulder, drawing forth a gleaming silvered sword that shone brilliantly in the dawn's earliest rays.

"Abomination," he growled, and heavenly flame burst forth, wreathing the sword in divine radiance. He slammed his elbow into the gaping mouth of the assassin, two, three times until it released the dagger still embedded in his side. The Warden released the thing's wrist, and as it staggered away, he stroked with his burning blade, tearing through the vampire's leathers and searing the undead flesh that lay beneath.
------------------------------------------
She staggered back and clutched her belly where the paladin had struck. "How?!" Her mind raced in panic. She had been an unseen, had stroked perfectly. Still, the bastard in the gleaming armor came on, and she dove into the shadows, melting away from sight. Her dagger still rested in his flesh; surely its poison would do its work soon. She crawled through the tall grasses around the commons, diving from rock to tree to whatever she could find to provide cover. The morning sky began to brighten, and soon, she would turn to ash beneath the sun's brilliance. She cursed the misfortune but unshouldered her bow, bringing a poison-tipped arrow to its string.

"Blood for the Blood God," she whispered, "damn your soul."
------------------------------------------
The paladin rocked forward as an arrow ripped into his shoulder, but he steadied himself, whirling to see the familiar assassin some twenty paces away, quickly working to nock another arrow. He tore after her, his armor clanking in quiet, well-oiled protest to the sudden movement. He brought his silvered sword to bear, his eyes now flaring brilliantly as he channeled the Even-Handed's justice into his next stroke.
------------------------------------------
She knew she'd missed as soon as she let the arrow fly; it would sail hopelessly wide, and she'd need to defend herself with naught but her hands. She faltered as the paladin lurched to his side, taking the arrow in his left arm. He didn't slow in the least, and in a breath, he'd be upon her.
------------------------------------------
Her carriage was off; she'd miss, he knew, so he leaned toward her error. He winced in gratitude as the arrow sunk into his armor, barely breaching his skin; it wouldn't do to have someone else shot on his account. He rapidly approached the vampire now, and she crouched to meet his onslaught. He brought his sword overhead, as though to chop downward from a high guard. As he'd hoped, the vampire raised its posture, preparing to sidestep the vertical strike.
------------------------------------------
"Clumsy fool," she allowed herself a brief smile at the fool paladin's obvious attack. He would miss grandly, and she'd move about him, behind him, to a delicious angle at his neck. She neatly stepped to her left and grabbed his right shoulder, preparing to use him as leverage to vault on to his back, to tear at his exposed flesh, but she felt a strange burning in her breast. She looked down and saw the hilt of a sword pressed against her breasts, and she realized it, now, in her near memories; the man had bent his knees at the last moment and followed her movement, his new angle placing his sword in line with the center of her torso.

She knew it was over, her unlife at its end, but she snarled anyway, baring her wicked fangs that had drained so many of life before this moment. A searing pain shot through her jaw as the paladin's gauntleted fist crashed into her mouth, and a few paces away, she spied one of her fangs resting in the dusty earth. A more delicate hand rested on her shoulder, then, and she craned her neck to see a radiantly beautiful, red-haired woman in gold armor standing there with a serene smile. The favored of Sune.
------------------------------------------
"Sune's blessings upon you," the woman quipped, and divine energies poured through her hand, instantly reducing the vampire to ash as the sun completed its dawn ascent.

The paladin tugged out the dagger, then, and regarded it briefly. "Poison," he mused, eying the purplish tint, and he shrugged and threw the blade into the fire as he rejoined the others at the commons, some having armed themselves, some shocked at the encounter. He dropped his right hand to the wound in his side; a soft yellow light glowed there, and his flesh healed and shone as if no wound had ever breached there. He moved back to the dark-haired Sunite, the beauteous Priya, and she met him with a soft smile. The day would yet be fine.

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 12:59 AM.
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  #12  
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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  #13  
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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  #14  
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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  #15  
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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  #16  
Old 11-08-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Prideful

Greater men than I have failed.

My Order's history is not one wrought only of mercy and heroism. Its past is a long tale of virtue, of sacrifice, of mighty foes defeated...of corruption, of uncertainty, of failure. A story of sacrifice, of treachery, of good souls rising to lofty heights, only to fall farther from the higher vantage. What will be told of me when I'm done?

Baragorn D'Locke, a man I never knew. A Tormtar, a leader of men, who held steadfast to his principles, refused to align himself with our enemies to stop a cataclysm that never came. Destroyed by the fallen Balthazar, one of three Noble Adjudicators, equal to Caspar and Melchior. I'm told the fallen paladin presented Baragorn's head to the Triad, his mouth twisted into a pained grimace, his eyes frozen in the stoic determination that defines those that walk the most righteous path.

Hano Fetten, another stranger. So loved by Torm that he was gifted with a piece of the Loyal Fury's own sword. He misjudged, let an artifact of tremendous evil fall into the wrong hands, and uncountable innocents lost their lives. Shar's Abaddon is a raped landscape, an eternal reminder of my Order's failing, of the great champions that came before me and could not equal the tasks before them.

And I'm to duel there.

As I grow in strength, in influence, a prideful noble wants to prove himself at my expense, to win his chance at taking on the mantle of Warden. A foolish endeavor that will gain him nothing, other than perhaps boasts of the exploit. He doesn't understand the sacrifices made, the enormity of the task, and yet I must entertain him. My vows demand it of me, that I accept a fair challenge, that I allow him this opportunity.

The Abaddon is desolate, the only life - if it can be called such - the corrupted essences of those that lost themselves in my temple's greatest failing. Perhaps the Centurio chose it for that reason. Perhaps he finds humor in surrounding me in my Order's failure before he hopes to make me fail again in the eyes of my peers and his admirers. I wonder if he seeks to shame me, or whether he is only motivated by his own hubris, by the glory of achievement.

Hano, I've been told, lessened his standing in the Temple to preserve his love for another. He sacrificed for his heart's pursuit, and I sacrifice my heart's pursuit for my Temple, for the State and her people. When I consider the gravity of what's set before me, the seemingly impossible needs I'm to satisfy, I wonder if I'm choosing wisely.

There is a burning in the pit of my stomach, a loathing for evil and its agents, that fuels my righteous fury and guides my hand. It has been useful...but I wonder if I need it. I do not want it. Mercy has ever driven my blade. I have resented the undead, the Black Hand, sought the destruction of those individual embodiments of wretchedness, and yet...

...who am I supposed to be? This was once a merciful man, with a merciful sword. Wrath has driven my blade...does he need only direct it? Surely, these enemies need dispatched, but do I dishonor my purpose by greeting them all with this blade?

She is yet with me. Foolish of me to pretend I could rid myself of that governor by discarding a bauble. I thought...wished...that she was my weakness, and I believed with such fervent hope that I would be strong in falling off that pursuit. There is an emptiness, there, and I know that she filled it. She would yet be there, if I let her. I wonder.

Evil to destroy. Hearts to mend. A dead god to prevent from returning. A mysterious new foe that claims dominance over the vampires.

And a duel tomorrow.

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:06 AM.
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  #17  
Old 11-09-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Indomitable

"Gods, Sir Tornbrook! How long do they keep coming?!"

The Lionheart shouted ahead, and she wondered if he could even hear her over the abominable screams of the undead. The Adjudicator was tens of yards ahead of her, and she only occasionally caught glimpses of him as the fell things swarmed around him, others charging passed into the line of the Triad's warriors that waited behind.

It seemed as though hundreds of the things were pouring forth from the depths of the night, and they ran with abandon into the shield wall of the Triumvirate, some trying to leap over that first line, others throwing themselves recklessly against the sturdy front.

The knights, clad mostly in the gleaming steel armor of the Tormtar, held rank, dutifully remaining rooted as glimpses of the besieged Adjudicator grew fewer and briefer. Ilmatari clerics chanted from behind that wall, sending forth divine energies that ripped through the undead and sent them cowering in fear of utter destruction.

The battle stopped, suddenly. The ghouls and lesser vampires that were charging the ranks of the Triad's soldiers skidded to abrupt halts, turning and staring hungrily back at their swarming brethren, who had likewise ceased the chaotic dance around the Adjudicator. The night fell deathly silent, save for the clanking mail of a Tormtar who had broken rank for a moment, thinking to rush ahead into that throng and discover the fate of Sir Tornbrook, but he was yanked back into line by one with more discipline. Moonlight gleamed off the helmets of the twenty or so knights, and the clerics levered for a better vantage, using the pauldrons of the Tormtar for support.

They stared into the corrupt throng, the undead and the Triad, waiting.

A head flew out of the throng, and dust rose from the earth each of the three or four times it skipped. It rolled for a few yards, coming to rest face up. Its mouth was opened wide in a snarl, one of its fangs conspicuously chipped...

A blue brilliance suddenly emanated from that throng, an azure sphere of wavering light that flickered like fire. The undead suddenly parted, revealing the figure within. The Adjudicator stood, gleaming blue and gold mail dripping with the foul ichor of the undead. His head was bowed, his eyes lifted, glaring dangerously at the unnatural denizens that even then slowly backed away, terror all but paralyzing the limbs that would grant them flight. In his right hand, he carried the holy blade with the shorn pommel, its tip angled toward the ground, just kissing the trampled grass. His left hung at his side, clutching the throat of one of the intelligent vampires that hung all but parallel to the ground, its feet desperately kicking against the earth, trying to find a foothold.

He turned that baleful gaze over the damned warband, his eyes unblinking before he looked down to consider the vampire in his grasp. It feebly clawed at his mailed hand and arm. The paladin considered it awhile longer, mere moments that felt an eternity to the audience of good and evil. The creature's eyes shot wide as it recognized the yellow brilliance that began to form in the Adjudicator's grasp, and it kicked all the more violently at the ground, vainly trying to run out of the hold, to escape the inevitable.

The brilliance suddenly flared to a blinding brightness, then dimmed and dissipated as quickly as it had illuminated. The vampire's head was gone...just gone...and the paladin held the neckline of fine chainmail. The legs stopped kicking, the clawing hands went limp, and the whole of the thing turned to ash.

Silence still reigned as the paladin lifted his chin to consider the disciplined ranks of the Triad's warriors - his warriors - and he opened his hand, letting the ash in his hand scatter to the faint breeze.

"Rout them."

The triumphant shouts of the knights of virtue drowned out the terrified screams of the undead even as thunderous steps threatened to squelch their own war cry. The abominations stood trembling in the presence of the Adjudicator, their monstrous, horrified visages turning rapidly between the paladin and the oncoming Triad, unable to take a step away from their doom.

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 11-10-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
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Wrath, Educated, Part III

The youth sat in the familiar chamber, his legs wide and feet on the sticky floor, his arms folded defiantly over his chest as he stared at the chamber's lone door, visible only because of the torch light that streamed through the head-level bars that allowed in that meager luminescence and breathable air, untainted by the rusty taste of the atmosphere within the dungeon.

He stared at the door, and the sound of measured, booted steps reached his ears even as the shadow of a man appeared at the top of the stairs that led down to that grim room. His right eye twitched at every hollow echo, and he swallowed hard as the footsteps grew louder, grew nearer. He kept his gaze on that door, not daring to look elsewhere.

The latch of the door gave way, and the door swung in, revealing the familiar dark finery of the patriarch of House Blackmantle, favored of the Tyrant, father of the young man that still glared at the portal.

"Early for your devotions," the man's voice spoke of cold nobility, and he half-smiled cruelly as he pulled off his gloves and cast them aside, his unempathic gaze settled on his son. He didn't seem bothered that his gloves made no sound when they hit the ground.

The room was poorly lit, with only a pair of torches ensconced in the wall over the crude seat the youth had taken for himself. Eerie shadows crawled along the walls, and the younger Blackmantle's eyes seemed to burn with a fickleness similar to the meager light cast by the burning brands. The elder Blackmantle matched the youth's posture, folding his arms over the well-oiled leather of his black vest, and fixed his cold expression more completely on his spawn.

"Have you chosen today's implement of persuasion?" the elder spoke, his eyes listing to the wall at his left, where hung the various elements he used to persuade his son toward obedience, toward true faith in Darkness.

"Sword," came the flat reply. The youth kept his azure gaze determinedly on his father, unflinching, unwilling to look away.

"Sword," Lord Blackmantle repeated, a wicked grin twisting his lips, "...is not your option, boy. Has the persuasion robbed you of your senses?" The man moved to the wall, taking each of the tools in hand and scrutinizing them with feigned discernment.

"This?" he asked, presenting a thick rope, knotted at one end. "No, you outgrew that one years ago...these?" He unhooked a pair of gloves, the palms of them laced with a number of tiny spikes. He turned to regard the youth, a brow raised in appraisal as he looked for the tell-tale wince that would define the proper implement for the day's lesson. The boy stared back, his face a steely mask of defiance. The young man's eyes glistened in the darkness.

"Sword," the younger Blackmantle demanded.

"Boy, this is no game. Choose your penance and-..."

"Sword," a voice echoed from the darkness, and the elder Blackmantle whirled. A man of salt and pepper hair and hardened, gray eyes stepped from a dark corner of the chamber, clutching the other man's gloves. His dark leathers moved soundlessly as he stepped into the dim torch light, and he cast the gloves to the other man's feet.

"Tristan!" the other hissed. "Who led-" he turned again, eyeing the seated youth with evident hatred. "You!" he spat. "You would ruin this house! You would sacrifice everything for your stupid sense of morality!"

Blackmantle the younger shrugged, his stern expression yet fixed on his father.

The lord of the house turned again, pointing an accusing finger at the other figure. "You can prove nothing! Guards! Guards!"

"They won't come, Mikhail. It's been seen to." The dark-clad figure moved further from the corner, and the torch light glinted off of the exposed steel of the two swords that hung from his belt.

The elder Blackmantle whirled again, but the chair that had held his son was empty. He quickly turned, and the youth was by the door. The portal was half open, and he seemed ready to step out.

"You are accused of conspiracy to corrupt the Cormyrian government, assassination of state officials, torture of goodly folk, and the murder of Sir Robert Britewater," Tristan began, and even as he spoke, he tossed one of the two swords to the elder Blackmantle's feet. "It is my preference that you submit yourself to Cormyrian court, to be judged by the public, but if you wish, you may take that sword in hand, and let the Just God decide your guilt here, in this moment." The black-clad knight drew the other sword, then. His expression showed no malice, no anger, but a deadly cool, one of promise and certainty.

He heard the door latch, and his eyes crept to the sealed portal. The youth was gone, and the sound of his footsteps grew fainter and fainter as he climbed the stairs, out into the late afternoon, where a gentle breeze stirred early autumn grasses and carried the sweet scent of woods and pollens. He stooped and picked up the sword. It was a fine weapon, well weighted; Tristan would not cheat him, of course. He was a Hammer, foremost of the hated Tyr's paladins, fair to a fault.

"Let's see what your pathetic god decides, then."

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Wrath, Educated, Part IV

Tristan emerged out into the daylight, wiping the blade of his sword on a long, crimson cloth that hung from his belt. The sun hung just over the horizon, its orange brilliance washing out the knight's vision in a fiery haze. He brought up a gloved hand to shield his eyes from the glow, and his sword tip skipped off the top stair, the metallic echo scattering to the early evening breeze.

He regained his sight and saw the younger Blackmantle leaning against a nearby tree, its leaves yet green in defiance of the turning season. He had his arms folded over his chest, staring expectantly at the opening to the family's cellar. The boy had his father's blond hair and a potent blue gaze that varied in hue and intensity in accordance with his mood. He was growing up strong and possessed of the pleasing physical traits of the nobility. His brow was high, his cheekbones defined and without blemish. He began walking toward the young man, sliding his cleaned blade into his belt and letting the blood-stained cloth flutter behind him in the breeze as it clung to his waist.

"It's done, young Blackmantle."

"Don't call me that."

The knight shrugged in return, folding his arms over his chest to match the youth's posture. "The Even-Handed weighed the scales, and your father was wanting."

"Please, spare me that, Tristan."

"You sought the Grimjaws, lad. I am his Hammer, the deliverer of justice. You must own what's been done, this day."

"Own it?" The young boy smiled oddly at that and ran his tongue inside his lower lip, making it jut out as he shook his head. "Own it. I can't stay here."

"No, you can't," the paladin agreed, his head tilting to his right. "Your father's enemies will seize this opportunity, his allies will prove less than beneficial."

"What am I supposed to do? Grab a bag of money and sit in Neverwinter until they find me?"

"Sundren."

"Sundren?"

"Sundren. It's a new land. You can decide your life there, I imagine."

"Sundren," the young man repeated again, turning his gaze to the side and welcoming the sting of the setting sun.

"There are agents of the Hand, there, but they shouldn't know you, and warriors of our faith have migrated there to squelch the threat. You'd be safe. I could send word to the temple to let them kn-"

"No, thanks. Your holy warrior deal isn't for me." The youth scoffed and looked back to the knight, his brow flat.

"As you say, young Blackmantle." It was the paladin's turn to smile oddly, but the young noble dismissed the foretelling gesture with a turn of his chin.

"Don't call me that. That's my father's name."

"And what should you be called?"

"Tornbrook."

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Old 11-16-2010
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Wrath, Revelation, Part I

I lay out my arms and armor on the floor of my room and kneel before them. Warmth fills the chamber, emanating from the crackling hearth set into the wall opposite the door. Simple benches that I've dressed in blankets and pillows rest just beyond the licking flames of the small fire, ever undisturbed. We would pass whole nights there, she and I, our cheeks pressed together as our eyes reflected the flickering dance of orange and red tongues that leaped up from the burning logs. I miss those moments dearly, and a merciless hand grips my heart, burning it...crushing it...

I breathe out the notion with a heavy exhale, my bare chest deflating as I expel my wants, my concerns in favor of duty. I breathe in the rustic air that filters into my room, scented with the living identity of the wood that slowly turns to ash in the fire's embrace. It brings with it my honor, my oaths...

...and wrath.

I shut my eyes, forcing back tears that would illustrate my sorrow, and my lids lift to reveal the Judicator's gaze: the unblinking stare, the purpose and judgment. I pull on my gambeson - a clean, white shirt padded against the weight of my armor. The legs are next, boots and greaves fitting into place as...

...as I remember nights she would spend here. When I yet had to hunt, she would tend my armor. Gentle hands and tender caresses of the not-yet-covered flesh that asked without insistence that I forget my duty for an evening, always knowing that I would not, but still making me feel...

I swallow the memory, casting it down into the pit of my stomach where it burns even more fiercely, but where I can keep it from my mind, further from my eyes that would tell this unfortunate tale. I am armored, covered in formidable black and gold. The armor's ebon glint threatens to swallow my room's meager torchlight even as the gold reflects it gloriously. I kneel only before my sword belts, now. Four blades rest dutifully in front of me, and I will wear them all. I draw forth the silvered blade and hold it in my lap. The Even-Handed's blessings flow from my lips and descend upon the sword's gleaming edge.

Let the Just God judge His enemies through this blade. Let them feel His wrath as an extension of my hand. I bless this blade that it might persuade the unliving to true death, that they might know the mercy of justice in taking their rightful place. Righteousness guide this sword to the depths of evil, and let it cast its light.

I return the sword to its rightful scabbard and set it aside, reaching for a different blade...the blade. I release an airy sigh as I grasp Wrath's hilt, and it slides easily from its case, as though it were relieved to be free of its sheath. Its power yet surprises me, and my sword arm tingles as it always does when I take this weapon in hand. There is no blessing I can offer it, but I commune with it.

Blade with whom I live, serve righteousness, serve justice. Seek the heart of evil, still lives of pain. Cut well, that enemies of truth come to know Wrath.

I clasp on the sword belts that hold blades at either of my hips and over either of my shoulders, and I wrap my cloak about my shoulders. Wrath yet protests at its place in its scabbard as I pull up my hood, concealing my eyes, eyes that burn, now, with righteous intent. My gaze promises pain for the unjust, I know, and Wrath quiets as I grip its hilt, my thumb resting where its pommel ought to be. It quiets, and the memories and regret that tug at my consciousness do in kind. It is time to hunt, and my soul demands silence for this task.

I bless myself with a ward that reveals the undead, and I step out into the night. I immediately feel the intrusion, the aura of the unliving. It is familiar and offends me. I spy her, holding court in the commons as though she belongs there. I step through the gathering to face her, and I feel her gaze as I do. It threatens to ruin me, to compromise my resolve. I grit my teeth and force back the remembrances that struggle for my attention. I am Wrath, and there is one here that needs to understand.
-------------------------------------------
"What are you doing here?" His even tone issued forth from the depths of his hood.

"Just enjoying the night, fella. No need to..." The mercenary who wouldn't trust another with his name began, but he quickly silenced as the dark-armored man shot out an upraised hand, demanding his silence. The hooded figure kept his gaze on the red-haired woman, who smiled with wicked amusement at the man's question.

"Nothing, sir," the vampiress replied with feigned sweetness, her voice lilting musically even as she bent slightly, trying to catch a glimpse of the man's features.

"You don't belong here. Leave." He demanded, his voice cold with purpose.

"I was here first!" She nearly growled as she reached for her sword, recognizing the armored man's demand if not his voice.

His lips twisted into a dark half-grin. He wanted this, to punish her wickedness for an audience. Let them see the fragility of the undead, let them witness the diligence of Sundren's Wrath. He reached for the silvered sword that rested quietly over his right shoulder and drew it forth, its blade still dancing with the holy energies he had poured into it. He set his guard as she set hers, her massive weapon warding the space between them.

"Don't make a fucking move, Judicator!"

She was caught; the woman whose gaze he'd shied from, the woman who could undo him, was frozen, a sword to her neck. Her dark, lustrous gaze dulled as she recognized the hooded man for who he was, and an unfeeling despair washed over her features.

"Not a move, or she dies."

The paladin's chest heaved with deep breaths as he looked to the threatened woman from beneath his hooded gaze. He thanked the gods for the shadow the mantle offered, else they would see his eyes, and they would tell his story...

"What do you want?" He growled, his throat seized by the lump that had suddenly formed there. He swallowed back his own despair, fighting for poise.

"Leave. When I'm satisfied you won't come back, I'll release her."

He slid his hooded gaze to the masked vampire, the same masked vampire who possessed a piece of the crucible. He'd bested that creature before, but this time, the bastard had leverage. The held woman stared at the armored man, her eyes offering an unspoken, desperate apology. The vampire delighted in the silent agony and slid his mask up, revealing vicious fangs. He bent toward the woman's neck...and kissed it gently.

"Make your choice, Judicator. Walk, or she dies."

His sword arm shook. Wrath screamed for its release, demanded justice against the unliving. He ignored them both and slid the silvered blade back into its sheath. He cast a baleful glance back at the red-haired woman, her greatsword still bared, but her posture relaxed. She wore a wide smile that showed her white fangs.

"Crossroads, wretch. Don't disappoint."

She laughed in reply, a short, mocking chortle. "When have I ever disappointed, lover?"

The paladin turned from them, his hooded gaze turning to keep the captive woman in his frame until he could no longer tilt his head, and he walked off into the night, his heart held against him.

(Continued...)

Last edited by roguethree; 01-04-2012 at 01:09 AM.
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