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The Crowfall Chronicles - Part 16 Of 20


oridi
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Part 1 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...cles-part-1-of/
Part 2 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...cles-part-2-of/
Part 3 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...cles-part-3-of/
Part 4 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...cles-part-4-of/
Part 5 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...cles-part-5-of/

Part 6 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...cles-part-6-of/
Part 7 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...-of/#entry55082
Part 8 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...cles-part-8-of/

Part 9 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...-of/#entry57426

Part 10 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...les-part-10-of/

Part 11 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...les-part-11-of/

Part 12 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...les-part-12-of/

Part 13 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...les-part-13-of/

Part 14 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...-part-14-of-20/

Part 15 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.crowfall.com/index.php?/topic/3974-the-crowfall-chronicles-part-15-of-20/

 

 

The Crowfall Chronicles - Part 16 of 20
(featuring characters by Fiblit, IridianShadowweaver and Ellie)

 

It was ironic that after all the preventative measures that Bepp and her companions had employed to avoid the Hunger it was a treacherous snowbank that caused Bepp’s undoing.  They had been traipsing along a downhill path, keeping to the sides to avoid the galloping wildlife that kept racing towards them from what was probably the Hunger in the West.  The fact that they were traveling toward the West, into the Hungered area, was not lost on any of them.

 

The snowbank under Bepps feet had given way to reveal a hollowed trough made by a winter stream a few feet down. The drop was enough for her to lose her footing and in an instant she was shooting down the stream bed on her back, feet forward, the thin rivulet of icy streamwater numbingly cold as it seeped through her leather wrap.  Her first efforts were to grab onto something, anything, to slow herself down but she realized quickly that there would be only rocks and ice with grasping distance.  The snow closed ranks overhead as she hurtled downward, the trough deep enough for her to fit into without disturbing the surface snow arced above.

 

The stream joined a river about a mile later and Bepp gratefully tumbled out into the riverbed, cold and wet but none the worse for wear.  She’d have a few bruises but that was about it.  She got her feet, waded to the bank and looked around to get her bearings.  Logic said that this was the river just south of the Nest, which meant that there was only one more forest area to get through before she was safe within the clearstone walls of the castle.  The question was whether to stay here and wait to be found or make a dash through the forest and rely on serendipity and survival skills to get her through what was likely to be a Hunger filled maze of trees.

 

She checked her pack, still strapped to her back though her food was crushed to a paste.  Her compass was still sound and her quicksilver dagger was still strapped securely to her thigh.  She could survive even without them but having a few  resources would make things much easier. 

 

Bepp had decided to press onward without even realizing it. Her companions were as capable as herself and they were likely to head for the Nest as well.  She shrugged on her backpack and headed towards the edge of the woods.  They seemed a bit greener in one area, which was odd for Wintertime.  She headed towards the green patch and then realized it was not greenery.  It was a woman, vined and green haired, smiling at her and holding out a gently steaming bark cup.

“Would you like some tea?”  murmured the green woman.

 

---

 

The Mayor of Martledown heard the alarm bell start ringing as he was in his office finishing yet another mandatory report for the Head of Resources and Materials in Cice.  Eld was a good mayor, steady and calm no matter what the crisis, but the sound of the alarm bell was enough to get him running to the watchtower to see what was so dangerous that the bell needed to be rung.

 

Krell was on duty and had already raised the icy blue and white flag that meant Hunger had been sighted.  Both Krell himself and the arrow on top of the tower pointed towards the northwest and then a second flag was added, red, with the silhouette of a person running on it.  The residents of Martletown streamed from their homes at the sound of the alarm and once seeing the bluewhite and red flags, turned back, grabbed what they needed, and headed towards one of the three entrances into the underground city.  They knew that the red running flag meant they had at least 10 minutes to get underground.  A purple one was 5 minutes and a black one meant less than a minute.  Black flags meant death to those living further away from the underground entrances.

 

Krell had erred on the side of caution when he rang the alarm.  He did not like to admit it but his eyes were fading as he aged and the blue white flicker that he saw in the distance dancing around the forest treetops could have been a climbing animal shaking off snow to make a warmer perch.  He was almost glad a minute later when the flicker showed again, closer, coming south at a speed that was too fast for any animal to travel. 

 

He heard the slow, deep toll of the bell by the entrance near the Doctor’s house, announcing that all the folks that were assigned to enter by that hatch were inside.  He scanned for the sight of the boys that were tasked with rolling the heavy, half a man high stone in place above the hatch and soon spotted them running towards the next entrance, done with the first stone and ready to secure the next against the Hunger once everyone that was supposed to enter was in and safe.

 

A treble bell sounded as the second entrance hatch was sealed by an even bigger stone and Krell began gathering his things together for the climb down the watchtower ladder.  He took a long look around before starting down.  It was probably the last good look he was going to get of the aboveground world for a long, long time.

 

---

Bepp paused and looked at the green woman with one eyebrow raised. “Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.  A sign of life in all this Winter. Are you here to put things in order?”  She noted out of the corner of her eye a nearly imperceptible shape in the shadows, black on black. Part of her sighed. One assassin she could handle but two at once was not such good odds.

 

The green woman tilted her head and kept smiling.  “Oh I’m not here to harm you. I can’t help but wonder why you’re shooting out of streambeds with Winter already underway.  Have I missed out on a new sport?  I’m afraid my work keeps me quite out of the loop when it comes to new games.” She lifted the bark cup once more, wafting fragrant steam towards Bepp.

 

Bepp stared at the woman, unsure of everything except that she was reassuring and dangerous at the same time.  “I am grateful for the offer of the hot beverage but I must confess I’m uncertain whether it will aid me or kill me.”  Bepp slowly reached down and removed the quicksilver dagger from its pouch on her leg, handing it to the green woman hilt first.  “Of course I am assuming the right of refusal.  It could be that your companion will have me drink it whether I want to or not.”

 

The green woman took the dagger gracefully and glanced at the subtle etchings on the blade. She casually tossed it back over her shoulder to the woman in black tucked back in the shadows.  The blade was once more inspected and then the knife was thrown back to land on the ground before Bepp, buried to the hilt. The green woman took a sprig of bluegreen herb from her hair and stirred the cup’s contents with it. “This will aid you,” she said calmly. “I knew your father and recognize his mark on your blade.  What brings you to Parl?”

 

Bepp took the cup and drank deeply of the soothing, warm tea within it.  “I would love to tell you all about my adventures here on such a lovely planet but unfortunately I am due at the Nest.  They’re not exactly expecting me though they will once I arrive,” offered Mirl.  She realized as she was speaking that perhaps there had been something in the tea after all.

 

“Perfect,” said the green woman.  “We’re headed there as well.  We’ll keep you company if you don’t mind.”

 

---

 

Councilor Mirl snarled wordlessly as he mounted what passed for a horse on this godsforsaken planet and readied himself for the journey to the Nest.  His Farseer had tried to reach the King to verify that Lord Olbuf was indeed central to the negotiations but had been rebuffed and told that Mirl had his orders.

 

Apparently the Hunger was already present, and why the King had chosen to risk him on such a savage planet Mirl could not understand.  He had been born on the Eternal Kingdoms and reared for his court position since he could speak.  Clearly he was wasted on this sapling of a King and once again he determined his fierce intent to join whatever rebellion was simmering against the King when he returned to Court.

 

The soldiers were excited to be moving out.  They had been equipped with flamethrowers before they left the King’s Court and had enjoyed spurting fire at anything and everything made of stone in the name of practicing their flaming skills.  A few stalls had burned down in the market and there was a regrettable event with a sleeping drunk but on the whole they found a great deal of fun in the flamethrowers.

 

No one from Cice was going with them.  Mirl’s company had been given maps, supplies, compasses and verbal directions that would lead them first to Martletown and then to the Nest. As they headed out the group consisted of 49 soldiers (one was still locked up in the brig sleeping it off), Mirl, his personal attendant, his personal cook, his personal food taster, the Farseer, 3 bodyguards (including the battalion commander), and a stray dog that seemed to be in love with Mirl’s horse.

 

They headed out the West Gate, following the main road that Bepp had taken just a few days earlier.  Rather than stop at the forest edge that evening they pushed forward and then camped in a meadow mid forest long after sundown.  Mirl had the idea that the Hunger would only show up if he planned for it, as he was nearly royalty and therefore in his mind he had almost godslike powers of sway over all things. His approach could have worked as they woke up the next morning unscathed and they encountered no Hunger all the way to Martletown.

 

But when they arrived at the village mid morning no one was in sight and this confused Mirl so much that he decided to stop for an early lunch and check the maps.  The soldiers took over the tavern and enjoyed some rare vintages while Mirl and his bodyguards discussed the best route forward.  No one noticed the little dog barking until the barking changed to howling.  Mirl frowned and looked up from the map, which was actually upside-down.  “What is wrong with that cur?” he demanded.

 

The 3 bodyguards were instantly alert.  None of them were from Parl but they’d all done tours on inner planets and they knew that the Hunger was a devastating enemy, not to mention the usual vagabonds and thieves that came out in droves when Winter came. Before they could go and investigate the dog came around the corner, trotting happily towards them, tail wagging.  The bodyguards relaxed but Mirl grabbed the nearest flamethrower and incinerated the dog as soon as it was within range. The charred corpse lay still for a moment and then a small, flickering bluewhite light slowly rose and hovered just out of range of the flamethrower. 

 

“Chancellor! How did you know it was Infected?  Call the men!” gasped the battalion commander. 

 

“You fool, it was happy to see me.  Clearly under the influence of something diabolical given that it bit my boot this morning and its teeth almost made it through the leather.” Mirl had never encountered the Hunger in the flesh before, so to speak, but he was no idiot.  He had read of the repercussions of letting it touch the skin and had no intention of becoming Infected.

 

“Men – to arms!” bellowed one of the other bodyguards and the soldiers came pouring out of the tavern in various states of relaxed dress.  They gathered around Mirl and wondered at the bluewhite light as if it was a special treat to see it.

 

“Stand back you fools!  One touch of that and the flamethrowers will be turned on you!  Someone get my horse. We’re leaving immediately.” Mirl directed another gout of flame at the hovering light and then handed the flamethrower to a soldier. “Keep that thing away. If it touches anyone, flame them.”

 

The soldier that had run to get Mirl’s horse was running back just as quickly with no mount in sight. 

“Sir – Sir please, it’s here.  The Hunger, it’s here and it’s filling the stable entirely.  Your horse is quite… beyond riding Sir, and I do suggest we vacate the village as soon as possible.  Sir.”

 

Mirl wasted no time.  “To the riverbank!  We follow the river west until we see a tree trunk that splits into 3 trees and the river turns south. Move you slothful ignorants, move! Flame anything that glitters!”

 

---

 

The underground village at Martletown took no notice of what was occurring on the surface. They had more pressing matters at hand, specifically finding and clearing the tunnel that led to the Nest.  Baord and Sill had let the village leaders know of Port’s intentions to convince Lord Olbuf to let the residents of Martletown into the castle and they could only hope that Port succeeded.

 

A scouting party was sent to the North Tunnel to see how bad the blockage was.  While it was rather packed near the entrance with old furniture and whatever other  items folks had no room for underground, it seemed that further in one went the less debris there was.  Teams were formed and round the clock clearing of the North Tunnel began. The tunnel weaved a bit, now to the West, now to the East, but it was still faster than overland and once it was cleared out it would be a safe, easy, 3 hour walk to the Nest.  Of course there was the issue of whether or not Olbuf would let them in once they got there.

 

What no one was mentioning was that around all three hatches to aboveground a shimmering glow was seen developing a mere two hours after they fled underground. The tunnels to the entrances had already been caved in and so far there was no sign of the hunger getting through the collapsed dirt and rock.  But if the Hunger could figure out how to get around the sealed hatches, dirt and rock were not going to stop it.  They needed to get to the Nest and its clearstone walls quickly.

 

---

 

Oridi wiped the grime out of her eyes, smearing more dirt on her face in the process. She slid her back down a wall until she was sitting, letting her legs stretch out before her.  “We’ve found six tunnels now, five of which are caved in and one of which heads straight North.  Maybe the Northern tunnel curves around and heads south?” 

 

Fox looked at her with exhaustion etched into his usually agile face. “I don’t know.  I do know however that there are supposed to be symbols in the Martletown tunnel, and markings to show how far to the village, how far to food caches etc. The Northern Tunnel did have symbols,” he recalled as his white furred companion curled up near the two of them and fell asleep in an instant.  

 

“None recognizable.  Port said to look for a bird in a hand for Martletown and the Northern tunnel had a fist over a river.”

 

The two of them paused and looked at each other. “Maybe they’ll break through from the other side,” offered Fox.

 

“Maybe.  But it’s been two days of searching and we need to head back to the main area of the castle for now.  We’re out of supplies and maybe there is a map in the library here.  If there’s a library here.  I’ve not found one,” said Oridi as she got to her feet.

 

“To civilization we go then,” said Fox as he shouldered his pack.  “We’re what, an hour out from the main entrance?”

 

Oridi nodded and then fell in behind Fox and the now suddenly awake fox as they headed back to the inhabited parts of the Nest.

 

---

 

Port held Olbuf’s head in his lap and urged the warrior to wake up and drink the water held to his lips. The axe had struck true, so true in fact that it embedded itself a few inches into the clearstone floor of the entryway. It remained there still, its smooth surface pressed tightly against Olbuf’s leg wound, keeping him alive by not letting him bleed out.

 

Port had stood still for a few moments after letting go of the axe.  He had come to with a start and used a fire place poker to stab the infected foot through and carry it over to the blaze roaring in the fireplace. He spent a few seconds trying to shake the foot off the poker and then just threw the poker and foot together into the flames.

 

Port then shouted for Trep at the top of his lungs.  He couldn’t bring himself to look at Olbuf. He did not know if the warrior was alive or dead, or if the Infection had already spread.  He stayed frozen in place, staring at the flames, not sure if he wanted his new Master alive or dead. His shame at his cowardice flooded through him, colder than Hunger.

Trep came clattering down the stairs and stopped suddenly as he saw Olbuf down on the ground, foot gone. “What happened? What did you do? Is he dead?” Words tumbled out of Trep’s mouth as he sank down on the staircase, weak from battling the Hunger.

 

Port  finally turned around to see Olbuf lying peacefully on the floor, chest rising and falling regularly, to all appearances asleep. And alive, definitely alive. “He’s alive. And we need to keep him that way. At least until Oridi and Fox come back.”

 

Trep nodded and swallowed hard. “I’ll get some water.”

 

The next 24 hours were a nightmare for Port and Trep.  They were terrified that if they moved Olbuf the man would die, and if either of them left to go get help Olbuf would die from trying to move himself upon awakening.  One person alone was not likely to be able to hold him down.  Port devised a tourniquet for the wounded leg from strips torn from an entryway banner and they piled firewood all around Olbuf to keep him from shifting in his sleep. They allowed themselves trips to the kitchen and took turns taking catnaps on the floor near the fire.  Outside they could hear the Hunger, testing the door, endlessly screaming just at the edge of their hearing. Neither of them saw a way out of their dilemma other than the return of their companions.

 

Both were half dozing when a lovely smell filled the front hallway.  It was the scent of spring, and growing things, of life and all things wondrous.  They watched, horrified and intrigued to see a tiny, slim green vine slip through the front door center crack, tucking itself under the crossbar and slowly thickening into a vine the size of Olbuf’s wrist. Slowly the crossbar was raised and once overbalanced slid to the floor with a thud.  Trep tried to get to his feet but his efforts only led to him scrabbling around on the floor as his overworked body simply refused to function. Port grabbed the fireplace shovel and stood up shakily with it held before him.

 

Both doors opened slowly as the vine retreated. There in the doorway stood a green woman, a woman in black, and an old lady in a rather dirty tunic half wearing a leather wrap. A few feet behind them, held back by some unseen force, danced the Hunger, blazing bluewhite.

 

“Hello,” said the green woman, the scent of flowers following her words. “Would you happen to have some hot water for tea?”

 

---

 

The three women caught sight of Olbuf, laying still and pale on the floor.  The green woman barked out “Hot water. Now,” as she started pulling herbs and mushrooms out of her pockets.  Trep ran to the kitchen without a word. The woman in black murmered unintelligibly as she bent down and inspected the tourniquet and where the axeblade met Olbuf’s flesh.  The old woman gasped Olbuf’s name and knelt by his side, taking his hand.  “Olbuf! Oh son, can you hear me? Olbuf!”

 

The green woman looked at the woman in black with a mixture of surprise and delight. Port in the meanwhile had run to shut the doors and bar them once more.  “Who, who are you and can you help him?” asked Port, his voice still shaky. Trep returned with a steaming kettle of hot water and put it down on the hearth by the fire.

 

“Of course we can help him,” said the green woman calmly.  “The question is, help him what? Pass over? Pass through?  Come back? Fly forward?”

 

“Come back,” interjected Bepp, who had not left Olbuf’s side. “He is needed in the great war to come.  He needs to live!”

 

“War?  What war? Who are you people? And Olbuf!  What happened to Olbuf!” Oridi and Fox stood in the doorway from the hall, staring at the scene before them in disbelief.

 

“Well I am of no import though this woman in black will save your life down the road a bit.  You know these two fine gentleman I’m sure, and this is Bepp, Olbuf’s mother it seems.”  The green woman sniffed at the fire, made a face and threw in a handful of herbs. She turned and poured hot water into a small cup drawn from who knows where, adding bits of green and this that smoked, that that crackled.

The resulting liquid seemed to writhe of its own volition. With a half smile the green woman glanced at the woman in black as if to check whether she was ready.  The woman in black pointed at Olbuf’s right shoulder and then at Port, then she put her own hands on Olbuf’s left shoulder and bore down with all her might. Port caught on and pressed Olbuf down on the warrior’s right side.

 

The green woman knelt by Olbuf’s wound and with astounding strength grabbed the knob at the top of the battleaxe and flipped the whole axe completely up and backwards. The moment the metal axehead was free of the wound she doused the bloody stump with the contents of the cup, which sizzled upon contact with Olbuf’s flesh.  The warrior roared and came to, trying to sit up and fight whatever was attacking him. Oridi and Fox lent their strength as well to keep him down and after a minute of struggle Olbuf passed out again, the white fox sitting on his chest.

 

“We need to eat,” said Trep, his hollow voice falling into the silence like stones into a well.  He looked around the entryway at the group assembled before him.  “I’ll see what we have in the larder.”

 

“I’ll help,” said Port, loathe to stay for another moment in the entryway with the kind but terrifying women and Olbuf. Fox and the fox followed them out to the kitchen, the two of them as even tempered as ever.

 

“I’m Oridi. What can I do to help?” asked the slight woman, her face still smudged with dirt and her hair host to a multitude of cobwebs and dust.

 

“There’s a robe in my pack there. Get it and we’ll see if we can warm him up,” directed Bepp.

 

Oridi opened the pack and pulled out the robe, stopping as soon as she recognized it as a Farseer’s. Her eyes were cold and her voice distant as she turned to Bepp. “You are no Farseer.”

 

“Ah but she could be,” challenged the woman in black. “How would you know a Farseer out of their robe?”

 

“She would know, my ever valued companion, because Oridi herself is one” said the green woman, her eyes dancing and her hands pulling out herbs for another cup of tea.

 

 

The Crowfall Chronicles - Part 17 of 20 - http://community.crowfall.com/index.php?/topic/5177-the-crowfall-chronicles-part-17-of-20/

 

Woman in Black - Ellie

Chinchilla - Fawne
Centaur - Vaands
Man with Fox - Fiblit
Knight - Luscia

Woman in Green - Iridianshadowweaver
The Dragon - B1GxB4NG
The Confessor - Ozzie Mozzie

Edited by oridi

pixS8Wt.jpg


The Chronicles of Crowfall           The Free Lands of Azure            RIP Doc Gonzo.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I love your interpretation of Moira. How do you know these tiny details and intricacies of psyche? Methinks you're more druid than I.

Click your profile name>Click Manage Ignore Prefs>Find "Add a new user to my list" at the bottom of the page>Type in a username>Check options>Save Changes>Silence is bliss.

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