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[Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 9:05 pm
by RobJN
Here continues the record begun nearly two and a half years ago, of the journeyman chronicler, the Druid Thorn of the Radlebb Woods, formerly Marcu, son of Petyr Markovic of the village of Stallanford in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

Thorn continues his narrative, having been plucked from Lake Windrush by fishermen and reunited with his companions, the reunion interrupted by the ringing of the fishing village's alarm bell. The lightning storm that brought Thorn and the others has passed, but left the lake shrouded in thick mists. Flickerings of an unnatural blue light can be seen chasing in the depths of the fog, growing closer and closer to the barely-visible fishing vessel struggling to return to port.

While the men of the village rush to the lake shore, Thorn and his companions are tasked with bearing a heavy chest further down the lake shore....

Thorn's Chronicle continues...

“That is not lightning,” Ana said. She glanced down at Aurora. The girl didn’t seem to’ve heard her, though. Her golden eyes were locked on the lights in the fog, shifting to catch each flash and arc of light that revealed itself.

“The chest contains gold.” Aurora did not ask.

“Either that or lead,” Varis said. “But we were not to open it until—“

“Open it.”

“Ion said to—“

“Open it!”

Metal hinges groaned and grated as Varis lifted the lid.

“A King’s ransom!” Gilliam gasped. The chest was packed nearly to the top, and everything within was gold: cups, plates, candelabras. Jewelry and other fine ornaments peeked from among a jumble of coins: local royals, Thyatian Lucins, daros from the north, gold coins of both sizes minted by the dwarves. Coins from as far off as the Minrothads and Alphatia could be seen in the mix as well.

“Start throwing,” Aurora said, and she plucked a pendant from the chest, whirling it over her head like a sling.

“Are you mad?” Gilliam said, reaching — too late — as the pendant whistled away from the shrike’s hand, arcing high over the lake. Aurora was going for distance.

Varis hefted a wide-rimmed chalice, then let it fly with a grunt. It splashed into the lake not too far from shore.

Gilliam snorted. “You throw like a girl.” He took up a chalice of similar size, encrusted with garnets. He sighed as he turned it over in his hands, then hurled it out over the lake. It sailed perhaps six more feet than Varis’ throw before sinking into the lake with a muted splash.

The blonde weaver picked up a matching cup, took a deep breath, and cocked her arm back. My skin prickled, as if lightning were near, and the cup flew, tumbling, even further out than the pendant Aurora had thrown. The weaver smirked at the two warriors, bobbing the slightest of curtsies.

Gilliam and Varis both laughed. “Perhaps we should leave the girls to it.”

Ana reached into the chest, but Aurora caught her wrist.

“Not you. You will need your hands free. As will you, Thorn.”

I put down the candlestick, and looked to where Aurora was still gazing.

More blue lights pulsed from the depths of the fog. But now they were clustering nearer to our position, leaving just a few swirling through the mists after the boat.

“Is it getting further away?” Varis asked. The lanterns lining the boat were growing dimmer, their light diffusing more and more in the mists.

“The fog is getting thicker,” Ana said. The candlestick the other weaver had thrown, lofted further with a touch of her wind weaving, was swallowed by the mists before it could make a splash.

“And closer,” the blonde weaver said, as her own golden projectile disappeared into the gray as well.

Aurora had given up watching the dancing blue lights, and reached into the chest, scooping an armload of coins into her gathered cloak. They jangled and chattered as she walked a slow circle around us, spilling out a trail of coins as she went. She would pause, toeing a few into place if they spun away from the circle she was describing. She finished her work, then looked up at me.

“Melt them,” she said, pointing towards the circle of coins.


Gilliam and I both asked the question at the same moment.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Tue May 03, 2011 2:43 am
by Brett McKee
Love your story Rob, keep writing & I'll keep reading. :)

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Tue May 03, 2011 7:58 am
by mister c
Love your story Rob, keep writing & I'll keep reading.
Seconded, loving it.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Wed May 04, 2011 12:46 am
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

I closed my eyes, drew several deep breaths. I did not need to see the coins to reach out to them — they lay upon the earth, and still remembered their link to the land, if only distantly. I turned that echo back on the cold metal, willed it to remember the fires which separated it from its earthen cradle, and then to remember further back, of its time within the earth, nestled in the warmth that stirred in the deeps. I drew gently at the spark of memory still within the metal, coaxed it and teased it alight, all the time blending the runic essence of Firnath, cupped not in my hands, but sprinkled among each coin.

I felt the rippling in the air above the ring of coins, felt the flight of the mists from the growing heat as a normal man might watch a flock of doves take flight from a stone thrown into their midst.

A colossal whelming of flame and thunder smashed through the fine webwork of magic I’d been nurturing, and I snapped back to myself under the blinding sting of a searing wash of heat.

The air had grown, thick, heavy and wet. It was like trying to breathe in one of the Atruaghin’s sweat lodges. Through the steam, I saw a brilliant white glow fading towards orange from all around us.

Aurora lowered her hands, the pulsing of the red stones adorning her wrists slowing, the gleam of gold from the motes within fading. The circle of gold coins had fused into a solid — if lumpy and uneven — ring. I couldn’t tell if it was the stones or the water trying to settle upon them that sizzled and hissed.

“Samaam,” the girl said with the slightest of inclinations of her chin.

“In a few more moments, I would have—“

“We do not have that kind of time,” Aurora said. She made to say something else, but her words were lost as the fog rolled in off the lake.

With the fog came the most terrible of wailings I have ever heard — It was a sound that grated from the tips of my hair all the way to my toenails, seemed to lay every nerve bare, and then lathe them over and over with the breath of coldest winter. The icy claws of the demons infesting the temple seemed warm by comparison.

The sound drove all thought from my mind. My hands would not respond to even the base instinct to cover my ears, to try to preserve my hearing.

Worse than the sound, though, were the faces that streaked and swarmed past my eyes, which would not close: Brilliant and blue, features and shadows carved from streaks of a lighter blue light, all of it crackling, scintillating, one face blending into another, only for the first visage to appear from a different swirling collection of features. Their eyes blazed wide, the cobalt light so intense it felt as though my own eyes would ignite. But then the face shifted, into that of another man, and its mouth carried on the same terrible scream. Their mouths gaped, blazing with light so finely blue as to be nearly white; bright where they should have been darkest.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Thu May 05, 2011 10:07 am
by Azaghal
Wow Rob! What was that? *waits anxiously for next installment*

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Fri May 06, 2011 4:52 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues....

Every measure of my skin prickled, as though from spending too long under the summer’s sun, despite the clinging chill of the fog. Greenish-red ghosts of the streaming faces lingered in my vision when I was finally able to wrench my eyes shut against their glare. They still wailed, their shrieking rising and falling in pitch as they swarmed about us. Every movement seemed to drag against the weight of that noise, and every thought was clouded with the echoes of the pain that could possibly bring such wailing.

I cracked my eyes open as a hard, buzzing crackled joined the cacophony.

They had materialized claws, bones bright and shining white, wreathed in a hazy blue nimbus that could have been flesh. The talons flashed the brilliant bluish-white of lightning bolts, and poured off the same heat and light as they clashed against some unseen barrier. Sparks and streamers of residual energy arced away from the curve described by the molten and still-cooling gold. Their wails took on an added edge of fury, frustration, and the few that tested the barrier were soon joined by more and more. The more that crowded about the golden circle, the more my skin tingled and itched, a heavier feeling than that I got when the weavers worked their magics. This, then, was something entirely physical.

“Aurora, what—“ Gilliam’s voice was rough, though I hadn’t heard him coughing. It seemed that the effort to speak was nearly beyond him, and he was forcing the words out.

“Another moment, the stones are nearly primed.” The girl did not seem affected in the least. But I could barely see her against the hot white glare of the dragonstones at her wrists and brow — her hair was a blaze of molten gold, her eyes scintillating pools of silver-shot golden light. “Ana, be ready with your barrier spell.”

Behind me, Ana stood straight-backed, her face calm, composed, eyes closed, her fingers intertwined in prayer. Her skin shone silvery bright in the blue-white glare coming from the shrieking creatures in the fog, without a trace of the redness I could see blooming on my own hands and arms.

“Now!” the shrike called, and she brought her small fist down hard on the golden band that surrounded us.

Ana’s brief chant was lost as the hammerblow of thunder crashed down directly over our heads. It washed out the hungry screeches turned to screams of unearthly fright. Deafened though I was, the sound still lanced through me, chilling my blood even as my skin felt as if it were burning.

The barrier turned to a sheet of pure white light, streaming away, tearing the fog to shreds in its wake, consuming the shining, screaming phantoms as well.

The ringing silence was gradually filled with the gurgling of the lake over the rocky shore, the sound of rasping breath and harsh coughing.

I felt hot droplets against my skin, as I pushed myself up on my hands and knees, the coughing causing the bright after-images of the phantoms to jump and dance in my vision, and more droplets spattered against my hands. I turned my face up to the sky, wanting the rain to wash away some of the heat burning through my forehead, my cheeks. Though I tried to open my eyes, all I could see was the same reddish-white light as when my eyes were closed. I bowed my head again, felt my stomach heave with another bout of coughing.

The spots of moisture against my hands was warm, thicker than raindrops. If I could have seen them, I was sure they would have been red.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Fri May 06, 2011 9:56 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues....

The ringing in my ears obscured much of the jumble of conversations. I could make out Ana’s voice, as well as Aurora’s. Ion’s gravelly voice pitched just below the persistent chiming in my hearing, but he spoke too quietly for me to catch more than a few words.

Honestly, I had other things on my mind: the first being the intense pains that lanced through my bones every time I tried to move. Another was a thirst that would not let me be: I was only allowed a few sips of water at a time, and those only deepened my thirst.

The worst was the coughing — once it started, it did not seem to want to cease, each spasm causing my joints to flare in agony, which would cause me to scream, which would only cascade into another fit of coughing.

I drifted in and out of fevered sleep. The burning in my face and hands had subsided somewhat. I could not move my fingers on my own; they had been bound, then. I felt similar bindings across my chest, straining as I coughed. I did not have the strength or resolve to even try sitting up. I wondered how much worse the pitching and rocking would be if I were to even raise my head. The lancing pains in my eyes and the brilliant stars that burst in my vision with each bout of coughing was enough to convince me to simply lay as still as possible.

I woke to darkness, and the coolness of a cloth against my forehead.

“Ana?” My voice sounded as cracked and dry as my lips. I could feel my breath, laboring through a thick congestion, but dared not try to clear it.

“Hush, Thorn. I am here,” she said. I felt a gentle sweep of fingers over my shoulder. The cloth came away from my forehead, and I heard the trickling of water. It returned, cooler.

“The others?”

“Not so bad off as you. Now be still.”

“I am trying, but the cot does not want to cooperate.”

“We are on a boat, on our way to Kelvin, and thence to Krakatos.”

“Are we in the hold? It is dark as the new moon’s night in here.”

“I had to bandage your eyes.”

“Aurora’s magic.”

“She saved us all, Thorn.”

“Next time, I think I’ll ask for Alphaks’ aid.”

Ana wrung the cloth out, and placed it back on my forehead.

“That was a joke,” I told her.

“You invite the attentions of the Destroyer by uttering his name,” she said, her voice tight. She spoke again, and I could hear her smile. “I think we are managing well enough on our own.”

My laughter trailed into a lengthy coughing fit.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Tue May 10, 2011 1:17 pm
by mister c
This is great. I like the calendar the druids use, (might steal it for my campaign, thanks) and wondered if they have an alternative system for refering to years?
Keep writing please.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Tue May 10, 2011 9:27 pm
by RobJN
mister c wrote:This is great. I like the calendar the druids use, (might steal it for my campaign, thanks) and wondered if they have an alternative system for refering to years?
Keep writing please.
The Druid's calendar focuses more on the season rather than paying attention so much to things like "days" and "years." I haven't formalized anything, or even come up with any sort of scheme. Guess I should come up with something, what with the new year approaching.

My initial thoughts would be for their timekeeping to be lunar- and stellar-based, since those cycles are more easily broken down outside the seasonal shifts. I'd read somewhere that RW druids regarded a "day" as being sunset to sunset, and actually Thorn's recollections are "compiled" after dark.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sat May 14, 2011 2:23 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

Eve of the Chimerids (on or about Kaldmont 24, 997AC)

My sight returned with the next dawn, though it looked to me as if the overcast day was bright as a summer’s noon. I could sit, but Ana bid me to rest, and I kept belowdecks. The flickering of the lantern was more than enough light for me to see by, and I passed the time catching up my skeins.

When she was not seeing to Varis and Gilliam, Aurora stayed with me. Though she hadn’t taxed herself nearly as much as had her past incarnation, her golden eyes were somewhat sunken, and her pallor slightly green. The girl voiced no complaint, but Ana later told me of Aurora’s deep aversion to travel by any kind of boat.

It was perhaps halfway towards noon the next day when the boat suddenly gave a jolt and there came a groaning and scraping. I tumbled from my bunk, and the lantern tumbled with me, dousing me in what little oil remained in its reservior. Fortunately, the wick was snuffed in the fall. The bandages on my hands saved me from the worst of the cuts, but I felt a sting on my cheek and brow.

I’d struggled to my feet when the clomping of many boots in the passage outside my small room stopped. The door burst open and four of the sailors glowered in at me.

“Up, on deck now,” the largest — the first mate, I think — said, making a hurrying motion with his free hand.

When I did not move quickly enough, two of the men crowded in and assisted me up the steps. As I reached the main deck, I saw that Gilliam and Varis had similar escorts. Both of them were quite a bit thinner, but their color looked good, their eyes clear and alert.

The ship was surrounded by large flows of ice, and were it not for the slaps of blue-white ice, would have run aground on the western bank of the Foamfire.

Of more concern than the ice, though, were the slight, golden-haired maidens perched atop the jagged crests of the ice flows. Their skin bore a bluish cast, and their upswept eyes were of nearly the same pale blue. They were attired in the briefest swathes of what looked to be cloth (it could hardly be called armor) of delicate fish scales that shimmered in a rainbow of colors whenever they shifted their weight. I counted a dozen of them, half of which were armed with slender tridents that bore wickedly barbed tines.

“Nixies?” Gilliam asked. “I didn’t think they were real.”

“Real enough,” said one of the sailors, his hand close to the hilt of a saber tucked into his belt.

“And more than enough of them to cast their curse,” said another.

“We’ve brought them, as you asked,” the captain said, addressing the nixie who sat cross-legged atop a shelf on one of the ice flows. She wore a thin diadem of electrum, and held a short scepter of the same metal loosely in one hand.

She nodded, briefly, and made a sweeping gesture towards us with the scepter.

You will follow the ice to the place of the landborn.

The voice, cool and trilling like a stream over rocks, rippled through my mind. It wasn’t spoken in Common, but was more of a cascading series of ideas. The word “ice” for example, actually was a series of clicks and chirps, much like the sound ice makes as it grinds against itself.

As the “voice” faded, one of the ice slabs tipped, the deck heaving beneath us as the ice crashed through the railing.

The captain made a strangled sound in his throat. “We could have lowered the gangplank.”

The nixie leader cocked her head to the side, and her smile would have been sweet, had it not shown quite so many of her needlelike teeth.

The ice pitched and rolled nearly as much as the deck of the riverboat. It was warm enough that the ice had melted just enough to make it slippery, and the nixies took great delight in our slips and falls, their laughter like a chorus of raindrops on a clear stream. Fortunately Gilliam knew enough of the legends not to take any of the hands they offered. Turned palm up as they were, the webbing was barely noticeable.

“They are tiny things, barely taller than the little shrike. Why would those men be afraid of them?” Macha’s asked.

“One or two alone do not pose much of a threat,”Varis told her as he helped the weaver across to another flow of ice. This one tilted more steeply, and there was much hissing and clicking amongst the nixies as the two slipped and slid across it, arms waving wildly for balance. “But gathered by the half score, they have no need to fight.”

“I do not understand.”

“They are of the fey,” Aurora said. She hopped from flow to flow with barely a bobble in her step. “Their greatest defense is in their song. They taught my sister to sing. Nixie’s powers work on men as my sisters do on demonkind, though with greater effect. Ten can bind a man to their will for a year and a day.”

“Are all their warriors female?”

“They are all female,”Aurora said.

The dark haired weaver picked her way across another treacherous patch of bobbing ice. “But, if they are all female, how do they replenish their number?”

“What do you think the men are doing for that year and a day?” Varis asked.

Ana slapped Gilliam’s hand as he reached towards one of the nixies.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Mon May 16, 2011 12:30 am
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

The ice ended a good stone’s throw from shore, and we had to wade through freezing waters nearly up to our waists. Had Varis not carried Aurora, she would have been soaked nearly to her chin.

Not wanting to meet such a fate, I focused on the rocky riverbed I could barely feel through numb feet. Only after reaching the shore did I glance up to see the line of figures: each garbed ankle to neck in a deep green cloak, all but their eyes hidden beneath stag-horned helmets and behind hunting veils of gray-brown spider silks. Greaves and vambraces of ironoak were visible when the cloaks tossed this way and that in the breeze. Leather-bound hilts angled up from waist or from behind shoulders. A couple leaned lazily against bows nearly as tall as the points of the horns on their helms.

I raised a hand in greeting, motioning Varis and Gilliam to stand down with my other.

“Hail and well met,” I said. It was difficult to get the words past chattering teeth. “Do you come to bid welcome, or to ensure that we all reached shore safely?”

“A bit of both,” the Greenwarden in the middle of the line said, tugging his veil down as he approached. I recognized him as the captain of the Hierarch’s personal guard. It seemed odd, after having spent so much time around Varis in his clanging ringing mail to hear the captain’s armor clatter and clunk.

“You look well for one half-drowned,” the captain said, clasping my forearm and clapping me on the shoulder. “I trust Nikeela and her tribe did not treat you badly?”

“She was gracious enough to allow us to troop across ice flows and then nearly freeze us from the waist down in the Foamfire.”

The warden chuckled, motioning for the rest of the Greenwardens to approach. “Be glad she did not make you swim the whole way. Or ground the ship on the far shore. She still likes you, Thorn.”

“Yet I feel this was not a social call on her part,” I told the Greenwarden. “This close to Rifllian?”

“Rifllian?” Varis asked from behind me. “We were to go to Kelvin.”

“It would seem our plans have been changed,” Ana said.

The Hierarch’s guards wrapped us in their cloaks, steadying us as we slipped and slid through the rocks and roots along the shore. The mud from the snowmelt was nearly as treacherous as the ice flows.

Rather than turning on the Duke’s Road towards Rifllian, they led us across it, into a dense thicket of the Radlebb Woods.

“So much for your feather bed at the Silver Swan,” Varis said as he caught Gilliam’s lingering glance to the south.

The other warrior sighed. “Just as well, I suppose. I’m fairly certain Prestelle hasn’t forgotten about that bet. And I’m fresh out of horses at the moment.”

He led us to a campsite, where a large fire blazed in a circle of rocks, and several lean-tos blocked the worst of the wind.

The Hierarch rose from his place by the fire, dressed in field leathers of a Greenwarden rather than his usual robes and finery. He waved impatiently as I tried to bow.

“Come sit, Thorn, and get some warmth back in you before you freeze in place.” He held out a clay cup of dark and steaming tea. I took it, sipping even before I took a seat. “The rest of you, too, come, sit and be warmed.”

His gray brows rose as he regarded the two weavers, and rose even higher when Aurora stepped into his view.

“Sister of the wind and flame,” the Hierarch said, bowing his head as he handed Ana a cup. She lifted it in response, sipping, before she sat.

“Walker of the mountains, brother to steel,” the Hierarch intoned, passing cups to Gilliam and Varis. Gilliam let a trickle of the tea spill between his feet before raising the cup and then sipping.

Varis gave the other warrior a sidelong glance, his eyes darting to the ground at Gilliam’s feet. “Perfectly good waste of tea. My thanks, your Lordship,” he said. His teeth chattered against the rim of the cup as he drank.

“I bid you both welcome, sisters of air and sorrows.” He presented two more cups of tea to the weavers, and they took them, holding the clay cups with the tips of their fingers.

“Another daughter of silver and gold,” the Hierarch mused, as he handed a cup to Aurora. She pressed her hands together, her fingertips brushing her chin as she bowed slightly. The Hierarch inclined his head in return, and she took the offered cup, smiling as she breathed in the steam.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 2:09 am
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

A trickle of tea was all that was left in the pot, and the Hierarch smirked as he glanced at what had poured out into the bottom of his cup. “Well, the last pot’s leaves indicated something about visitors from afar, but I certainly was not expecting this.” He swirled his cup, then emptied it into the fire.

“Another daughter of gold and silver,” the Hierarch repeated. To me, in the Druid’s tongue, he said “This was something you did not see fit to mention when last we spoke?”

“This ‘something’ has ears and they work quite well,” Aurora said, looking up from her cup of tea. She addressed the Hierarch in lightly accented Druid’s speech. “This ‘something’ also has the means of gleaning your speech. The secret of my kind’s existence is not to be bandied about through a quartzite matrix that any hedge wizard and stone-teller can listen in on. Thorn and his companions were in the right in keeping the knowledge of my presence to themselves.”

“What witchery is this, that she could know our speech?” one of the Greenwardens gasped, face pale, his fingers flexing on the hilt of his sword.

“Breregon,” the Hierarch said, his voice soft and kindly, “you would serve me best in silence, your hand well away from your weapon.”

“But, your Worship, this girl—“

“She speaks in truth, and I am humbled before the wisdom of my elders, as you should be.” The Hierarch lowered his eyes, bowing deeply before the shrike.

Ana caught the cup as it slipped from my fingers. Hierarchs occasionally bowed before the Emperor of Thyatis or Empress Eriadna of Alphatia, but not more than the slightest of gestures. Hierarchs only lowered their eyes before the oldest of the Treekeepers, and only when under the boughs of one of the Trees of Life.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Thu May 19, 2011 4:14 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

The Hierarch handed the tea kettle to the Greenwarden, and bid him fill it from the Foamfire.

Aurora hid a smile behind another sip of tea. “Strange, the tricks history and the eons play on us. The Language of the Dead in a world that was now itself a dead language, and used by the shepherds of life in the world that is.” She shook her head, her expression gone from mirth to melancholy. “Dealth smiles on us still, it would seem.”

“Please,” Ana said to the Hierarch, “tell us what has happened in the weeks we have been away.”

The Hierarch nodded. “The weather grew worse, and then broke several days ago, which I can only assume you had something to do with.”

I rubbed at the scar on my throat, but said nothing. The Hierarch seemed to’ve already guessed what had happened.

“What did those fishermen mean about ‘ruins’ along the lakeshore? Surely some deeper evil has not stirred from Mistamere?” Varis asked.

The Hierarch’s eyes widened, and it seemed that he was going to chuckle, but then his smile faltered. “Not Gygar’s fortress, but Halaran’s manor. Tarnskeep has been laid to ruin nearly twoscore nights past.”

“That would have been the night we—“ Gilliam said.

Varis clenched a fist, bringing it down on his knee. “The Black Eagle will pay—“

“The party responsible shall be made to pay,” the Hierarch said. “Von Hendriks has seen to that, with his travesty of a trial held in Halag. He has taken the Grand Duke’s law and twisted it to his own ends.”

“As is usual. His sigil should be the snake, not the eagle,” Varis muttered.

“But what happened?” Ana asked. “None of the fishermen, nor the boatmen would discuss it.”

The Hierarch reached into a pouch at his belt, and withdrew several lengths of knotted, braided leather cord. Skeins. These he handed to me. “I will let Thorn read the accounts.”

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:28 pm
by Azaghal
Love the radience poisoning Rob! :D

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sat May 21, 2011 6:04 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

From the account of Jaromira "Thrush" Meskovich
"Waxing crescent of the Deep Snows

I thought perhaps that the lashing and flailing of the trees was at first another attempt by the forest to animate, that perhaps errant demons had escaped the blazing attack from the walls of Threshold.

But it turned out to be the wind — a heavy, hungry unnatural wind. It was as if a great hole had been opened up in the east, and the cold winter air rushed in to fill the space. I ran, the elder of the trees aiding my progress, until I stumbled upon the Highdell road, overlooking the lake and the local baron’s keep.

What I saw there made no sense. The lake was shrouded in a fog that should not have been — the lake and the night were both cold, the air dry between bouts of the unnatural snows. And yet there the gray mists were, boiling low across the surface of the lake, lit from within by flickers of silvery-blue light. I would have expected lightning to lance down from the becalmed clouds above before expecting to see it dancing amidst a lake fog. I would have believed the Immortals playing at some game amongst themselves before even considering that a mortal could be responsible for such magics.

At the edge of the fogs, at the end of the longest pier jutting from the castle’s docks, a group of figures stood, huddled around a small figure who’s hair glowed a brilliant gold, her dress a shining white to rival Matera in her full brilliance.

The figures milled about, and then began to step off the pier, to be swallowed by the fog.

The shouting from the walls of the keep carried my way by the unnatural winds, and the arrows the men loosed were likewise aided on their way to their targets: the last three figures left: two stout brown-cloaked figures I guessed were dwarves. They swatted at the arrows as best they could, knocking many from the air with axeheads ablaze in some fiery form of magic. All the while, they risked glances over broad shoulders to shout for the gleaming figure to flee.

She only lowered her arms when the arrows slipped past her two defenders. Three in all found their mark before she collapsed, the light in her hair dimming to a mere glimmer.

Roaring, twin axes raised, one of the dwarfs charged, arrows finding marks or bouncing from helm and plates. None seemed to phase the enraged figure, and he only fell when two arrows caught him in the leg.

The other dwarf had thrown himself over the still figure of the girl, his back riddled with many shafts.

The wind had died, when the girl fell, and the fog was retreating across the lake, whatever magic she had worked no longer holding it together. The night was far from silent, though. Men at the walls shouted and cheered, while others were making their way down steps cut in the stonework of the cliff wall that led to the docks. A portcullis at the head of the dock rattled and groaned upward, and a handful of men sprang from the darkness within.

I was surprised, that they did not wear the tower emblem but that of the black eagle, displayed.

Two men lifted the dwarf, after kicking his axes into the water, and a third was needed when he began to struggle. Another three pulled the other dwarf away from the girl. He, too struggled, though not as vigorously as the other.

Both of them voiced shouts as another soldier laid hands on the girl.

He gave a cry of his own, tumbling backwards into the water, his gauntlets ablaze with a blackish-purple flame. More fire lanced from the girl’s right hand, and the oddly colored fire caught the two onrushing soldiers in the face and throat. Their cries were drowned by the lake, but not the flames, which only dwindled as they sank to the depths of the Windrush.

Three more men met similar fates until the cries from the dwarves got through to the girl. The fire died in her hand, but her posture was one of a wary — and wounded — wolf cub.

A dark-cloaked figure strode the length of the dock, and the soldiers snapped to attention. The man stopped before the guardsmen holding the second dwarf, and they appeared to be speaking — the distance masked their words, but not the actions of the dwarf, who spat at the cloaked figure’s feet, shaking his head vehemently.

The dark hood then turned towards the girl, and the body language indicated that he asked the girl one or more questions.

She, too, refused whatever the request was, and they all stood for a long moment. The hood bobbed, as if the cloaked figure had accepted her answer, and he turned, as if to stride away.

Two steps took him behind the dwarf, and the figure turned, a black-gloved hand grasping several of the arrows still protruding from the dwarf’s back. These he gave a heavy push, and the dwarf’s cry of pain echoed across the lake.

The figure must have asked another question, because the dwarf again shook his head.

The girl’s posture had straightened at the dwarf’s agony, and something at her chest gleamed, starlike. The rapid bobbing of the arrows in her side slowed, evened, as if she no longer felt the pain from the woulds, deep though they were.

She paused, as if listening, and nodded once, though the dwarf seemed against whatever decision she had made.

The star-like glow manifested about a strange metallic sheathing twined about her lower arm. She reached up, laying her palm over the dwarf’s chest, the glow making its way around and between her fingers, to disappear, as if sinking into the dwarf’s armor.

A black-gloved hand snatched her wrist, snuffing out the light. Whether the girl’s cry was from shock or pain, I could not tell.

There was another silvery flash, but this from a knife in the cloaked figure’s other hand. He dragged it swiftly across the dwarf’s throat, so fast as to avoid the shower of crimson as it sprayed from the gaping wound.

The girl screamed, and tried to pull away, but the gloved hand held her fast. The dwarf’s blood painted her as he fell, from the crown of her golden hair to the soles of her feet as it pooled about his still form.

Light flared red, from between the fingers of the glove, and the hooded figure flinched away, snatching his hand back and clutching it as if he’d been burnt.

The girl fell to her knees, crying, as she attempted to stem the flow of blood from the dwarf’s throat. But it was too late. A wind through the trees joined the girl’s sobs. The lake was silent, still.

The hooded figure’s mistake, it seems, was to laugh.

The girl wiped at her tears, smearing the blood across her cheeks. The blood covering her arms seemed to glow as if the bracers beneath shone through it, brightest at the points where the oddly-cut gems adorned the backs of her wrists.

The pool of blood at her feet rippled, and then blazed forth with a rich, silvery-blue light, as if it were a puddle of lantern oil touched by a candle.

The girl did not burn, or show any sign that she even felt the flickering, ghostly flames.

A sharp word from the hooded figure caused the commotion among the soldiers to die, and they stood, battle-ready though they glanced at the girl and each other nervously.

The girl crouched down, and caressed the bloodless face of the dwarf. She bent and kissed his forehead, and each eyelid. She pressed two fingers of her right hand to his pale lips, and the stone on her wrist throbbed with what I can only describe as a dark light. She rose, slowly, and a shining wisp trailed from her fingers, as if she’d drawn it from the dwarf. Though her hair and gown moved with the breeze across the lake, the gossamer tendril did not.

The hooded figure laughed, again.

The girl closed her right hand into a fist. The cobweb snapped free of the dwarf’s lips, and snaked about the girl’s bloodied wrist, swirling as it was drawn into the darkened gleam of the stone.

The flames about her flared, climbing higher, higher with each beat of my heart — and it was beating quite quickly, moreso as the blue-white glare grew.

The girl’s cry split the sky like the trumpeting of some great silver dragon. It seemed impossible that such a sound could come from one tiny mortal.

I threw myself backwards, into the trees, pleading with them to carry me away, feeling them dissolve around me in a terrible white fire.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sun May 29, 2011 4:13 pm
by RobJN
I'm having a bit of trouble with the next scene -- there's a lot of information I want to pass along, but I'm having difficulty getting it to flow properly. I have a rough cut up in the Notes section of the Facebook page, and would appreciate feedback: Is it advancing the story? Are the characters "in character"? Is it answering enough questions to keep you reading? What does it feel like it is missing?

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:26 pm
by RobJN
Head on over to the Chronicle's Facebook page for instructions on how you can own your very own e-book copy of the first arc :mrgreen:

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:37 am
by Azaghal
Rob, been out a while. This seems to be a major block here. I'll look over your notes aas soon as I can.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:16 am
by RobJN
Bit of a block going these days, yeah. Plus RW stuff. New boss at work, new hours. Good news is that the air conditioning here at the house got fixed last week.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:30 pm
by Azaghal
RobJN wrote:Bit of a block going these days, yeah. Plus RW stuff. New boss at work, new hours. Good news is that the air conditioning here at the house got fixed last week.
RW has me hard lately too, wife's health. Our A/C works but can't use it because of the AZ fires. Tasty ash in the air though, you can cut it with a knife.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:11 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

I had to pause numerous times to sip from my cup of tea. My mouth went dry as my fingers worked their way over the knots. Though one of the Hierarch’s aides had washed the leather cords, I could still feel the gritty residue of dried blood in the knots’ crevices.

“Murder by magic and necromancy,“ Aurora whispered. She blinked several times, sniffling, then rose to her feet and walked unsteadily away from the fireside.

Gilliam made to follow her, but Ana set a hand on his. “No,” she said. “Let her have some time alone.”

The cleric of the Flame turned back to the Hierarch.

“Willful causing of death by necromancy,” he said. “The Black Eagle has sentenced her to death. It will be at sundown tomorrow, on the High Hill at Krakatos.”

Gilliam was on his feet, actually took a step closer to the Hierarch. “You could not tell us this sooner? Krakatos is still two days away!”

“And what would you do about it?” The Hierarch asked the question plainly. He did not raise his voice.

“You are just going to let him do this?” Gilliam asked, his fist clenching.

“The Black Eagle is well within his rights, and hasty though it was, he followed the law of the land. Special as the girl may be, she is no more above the Grand Duke’s law than any of us.”

“An appeal?”

“The accused did not ask for one,” the Hierarch said.

“Of course she didn’t, she does not speak the Common.” Gilliam looked to Ana, and then to Varis. “Your Grand Duke allows for petitions, does he not? Surely, if we—“

“We are at least five days’ ride from Specularum,” Varis said.

“We turned down the Grand Duchess’ offer of protection once,” Ana added. “Going before the Grand Duke would most likely see us next in line for a fate such as Silva’s. Had we allowed her to be taken into the Grand Duke’s custody, this would not have happened.”

“And we would not have reached the Lost Valley in time and the whole of the Known World would suffer under the hell of an eternal winter,” I said.

“Life and death are made by choices,” the Hierarch said. He looked across the fire, at each of my companions.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:27 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

I excused myself from the circle by the fire, and picked my way through the trees. It was not difficult to trace Aurora’s path, haphazard though it was. She had made her way back to the river, and I found her seated on a flat-topped boulder, knees drawn up, her head nestled in her arms, which she’d wrapped about her knees. She looked up as I approached, and though her tears were dry, her eyes were still red.

“Best be careful. Ana might take you for harboring a demon if your eyes get any redder.”

She scowled, sniffled, and rubbed at her eyes with a ragged sleeve. “You followed me here to say that?”

“No,” I said. “The Hierarch is lecturing our friends on the weight of choices and consequences.”

“You have heard this lecture before?”

“Too many times.”

Aurora looked away from me, staring over the ice-riddled expanse of the Wufwolde.

“My sister is going to die,” she finally said. Her inflection was odd, caught between a question and a statement. Was she asking me, or confirming it to herself?

“That has not happened yet,” I said.

“She used magic to take lives. That is punishable by death. It is so in every culture.”

“Until the punishment is dealt out, the accused has a right to demand appeal,” I said.

Aurora sat up a bit straighter, and hope lit her features for a fraction of a second. Then her shoulders slumped again. “But you told she who came before that Silva does not know your languages. How could she petition for an appeal?”

“A technicality that the Black Eagle no doubt was counting on,” I said. Something clicked into place in my memory. All those long hours of studying the Grand Duke’s decrees suddenly did not seem to be such a waste. “In the place of the accused, family may beg the right for appeal. Surely not even the Black Eagle could deny the resemblance.”

Again, the girl sat up a bit straighter, her eyes shining as the smile crept across her lips. She stood up, and her eyes were only slightly higher than my own. “You are certain of this, Thorn? That is in the law put down by the Grand Duke?”

I nodded, and drew a breath to recite the passage in its entirety for her. But she’d motioned for silence, her eyes narrowing, her weight shifting back and away, ready to spring backwards for the boulder’s cover.

A breath later, I heard it, too:

A steady clop-clop of hooves on the forest path, a creaking of wagon wheels, a tinkling of several different sets of metal chimes.

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:02 pm
by Azaghal
Yay! The cavalry! Maybe?

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:24 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

I lowered my hands, clenching them at my sides. I slowed my breathing, the heat ebbing away from between my fingers with each steady breath. I turned to tell the girl that it was all right, only to find her gone. I leaned upon the boulder, to see if she’d taken shelter behind it, and leapt back with a start. My hand had come down on smooth, bare flesh and bone rather than stone.

The air gave a wavering ripple, and a patch of pebbles along the shore shifted ever so slightly.

“Why are you—“ I started to ask.

The clopping of hooves slowed, then stopped, and the metallic, discordant chimes lingering, the spaces between notes growing longer.

“Well, here I thought myself the only traveler desperate enough to be out upon the roads. The company is most welcome and well met.” The voice was rich, deep and melodious. The speaker was a dusky-skinned Traladaran. Unlike most, he wore a short beard and mustache, as dark as the eyes above them and the curly hair peeking from beneath the brilliant purple head scarf. A large gold hoop dangled from one ear, and matched a neckpiece of similar loops, all intertwined. His tunic was a slightly lighter shade of purple than his headwrap, the billowing sleeves slashed with swathes of rich violet, over which he wore a black leather vest that seemed to be all pouches and pockets.

The man’s smile was wide, friendly, and though I’d never seen this particular Darine before, he gave off a the same feeling all of his kind did, of a long-lost friend or relative back from a long time away, coming home for a brief visit.

“Well met,” I answered him. “A fellow traveler’s peace on both of us.”

He nodded once, and his posture changed ever so slightly, his weight settling back on the padded wooden bench of the wagon. The hand not holding the reins came back into view from beneath the shaggy blanket he wore over his legs.

To say he drove a wagon is to misspeak. If the man’s clothing and accent had not given him away as Darine, the wagon — called in most of his peoples’ dialects a ‘vardo’ —left very little doubt. The main body sat high over wheels nearly as tall as I, the base half again as wide as most merchant’s wagons. The entire thing was enclosed, ledges jutting out over the wheels giving a bit more space on the inside. A variety of boxes hung from this ledge, dangling over the wheels. Windows of stained glass ran around most of the vardo’s walls, just beneath a slightly-overhanging curved roof. The chimes I’d heard hung from various places about the edges of the roof. The whole thing was painted in dizzying pattern of violet swirls and purple waves, edged and interleaved with bands of gold.

“I am happy to have your peace, friend,” the Darine man said, “but tell me, do I have that of your little companion as well?”

Re: [Thorn's Chronicle]: Wake of the White Witch's Wrath

Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:32 pm
by Azaghal
Hail the Gypsy's have arrived. Song by Cher "Gypsy's, tramps and thieves"