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The Crowfall Chronicles - Part 18 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.cro...-part-15-of-20/

Part 16 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.cro...-part-16-of-20/
Part 17 of the Crowfall Chronicles - http://community.crowfall.com/index.php?/topic/5177-the-crowfall-chronicles-part-17-of-20/

 

 

The Crowfall Chronicles - Part 17 of 20
(featuring characters by IridianShadowweaver, Ellie, and Fiblit)

 

 

Chancellor Mirl ground his teeth in frustration.  Apparently during the night, the Hunger had crept up and Infected the tent of men closest to the forest to the South.  2 men had woken fully Hungered and bolted from their tents to rip out the throats of another 4 men, who died quickly and then got right back up to attack another 7 men. 

 

By the time the flamethrowers were brought into play there were only 8 troopers left and the cook had lost the use of his left arm to a random spurt of fire.

 

Mirl considered his options.  According to his Council (as he was now calling his 3 bodyguards) the siege was not really a viable approach to winning the Nest, especially since he was down to only 8 troopers and he’d had no siege equipment to begin with. They could try and fight their way through the Hunger back to Cice or they could take refuge in the Nest.  Mirl was reluctant to enter the castle as anything other than its Lord and Master but the journey back to Cice seemed quite unpleasant. 

 

His decision was made when one of the remaining troopers (brought into the meeting along with his fellow soldiers as an audience to bow and clap at appropriate moments) piped up with the idea to use diplomacy to get into the castle and then force to commandeer it from the inside.  

 

“You.  Farseer. Go knock on the front door,” commanded Mirl. “Tell them we’re here after a long journey to check on their well being and that we demand … no… we seek safety inside the walls of the Nest.  Fancy up the language a bit, make us seem good, caring, honest.”

 

The Farseer got up slowly, their robe scorched and torn.  With a deliberate stride they left the meeting tent and went across the snow to the front door of the Nest.  The crows watched with black bead eyes, moving their heads in short bursts of motion as they tracked the Farseer’s progress up the steps.

 

The Farseer once again swore to themselves to never again agree to an assignment on an inner planet.  They could feel the presence of the crows, beating against their mind, like distant drums with a message that could not be translated. What could be learned from crows was a mystery to this Farseer and they found themselves distracted from the danger with the lure of unknown knowledge. Something could always be learned from everything and the Farseers as an organization was as much about research as it was about communication.

 

But the crows were an enigma at this point and the Farseer set their mind to the task at hand.  Once at the top of the steps they lifted the crow shaped door knocker and let it fall with a resounding, nearly bell like tone.  Once, twice, three times, and then the Farseer took a step back and waited.

 

Inside the Nest, the knocks on the door rolled through the castle, rumbling through the halls and rebounding off the clearstone.  Oridi and Fox were off searching again for the tunnel to the village.  Port and Trep were in the kitchen, taking inventory and determining how long the immense stores would last if they had to feed the village as well as themselves. The woman in black was in the armory, testing the weapons.

 

 

Bepp and the green woman were in the dining room off the entry hall near the kitchen, where a makeshift bed had been set up for Olbuf.  He was still mostly unconscious though occasional mumbles drifted up from him.  When the knock on the front door came Bepp was loathe to leave his side.  After a moment of hesitation she moved to the entryway, stood by the door and called out, “Who is there?”

 

“Farseer Fallow, here on behalf of Chancellor Mirl, to speak with Lord Olbuf,” came distantly through the door. 

 

Bepp’s eyes widened and she dashed back to other room.  “It’s someone claiming to be a Farseer. I cannot be seen by this person!  They were sent by Chancellor Mirl and are likely to have instructions to kill me on sight.”

 

“That is unpleasant for you I am sure.  You stay here with your son and I’ll open the door.  No one will come in without my say.”

 

The green woman calmly walked to the entryway and unbarred the door.  She swung the door open and smiled at the Farseer standing before her.  As the green woman took in the small group of tents and the gathering of people and troops on the snowy lawn a look of puzzlement crossed her face.  “How long have you been here?”

 

“We arrived yesterday.  Please, may I come inside.”

 

“Of course.  Please have a seat. May I offer you tea?” The green woman gestured to one of the seats by the fire and then shut and barred the door.

 

“I have very little time,” whispered the Farseer. “The group outside is led by a man called Chancellor Mirl and he is intent on having the Nest for his own. I am to secure entry for him and his men but then they will take the castle by force. The Hunger has decimated their ranks and if you leave them out there another night they’ll be down to few to none.”

 

The green woman had been sprinkling herbs in a cup and was ready to pour hot water in from the kettle on the hearth but the Farseer’s words stopped her.  She dropped the herbs into a pouch pulled from the folds of her skirt and started making an entirely different cup of tea. She handed it to the clearly exhausted Farseer and then sat down herself.

 

“What use is the Nest to them other than as refuge, which they can have for the asking?” queried the green woman.

 

“I don’t know,” replied the Farseer.  “I think Chancellor Mirl is planning on grabbing what he can from the planet while forcing it to pay taxes and tribute to the King.  This castle is a fine acquisition.”

 

“This castle will be rubble soon,” said the green woman. “I have seen it.  Rubble and with Hunger threaded through the stones.  Exactly when I’m not sure but within a half of a King’s year seems likely.”

 

Farseer Fallow looked at the green woman and then pushed back the hood of their robe to see her better.  It was a woman, pleasant faced, with a high forehead banded with a gold braided chain. “I would like to claim refuge and sanctuary here in the Nest. I have no idea what you mean by the Nest becoming rubble but I am weary and cold and this tea is the only good thing I’ve had to eat or drink since I left the King’s Court.”  The Farseer seemed a bit surprised by her own words. Her hands plucked at her hood but didn’t raise it back up.

“I’m glad you enjoy the tea.  It’s meant to put you at ease, make you comfortable,” smiled the green woman.  “By all means, join us.  I fear most of our company is out and about doing their worthwhile work around the castle proper but if you’d like to rest here a bit I’ll discuss the Chancellor with a few people and we’ll see what can be done. I’d hate for them to die out there, nibbled at the edges until their center is gone but what can one do?”

 

The green woman rose and went out the door to the dining room turned sickroom, stopping for a moment to check in on Bepp and Olbuf.  “How is he?” she asked quietly.   

 

Bepp looked up from her seat by Olbuf’s bed, hope lighting her eyes. “He came to for a few moments.  He recognized me!”

 

“How wonderful. May I borrow you for a moment?  There is a matter of great import that we must discuss.”

 

---

 

The villagers had made camp in the dim hallway, lighting torches and barring the door behind them once Krell had made it safely through.  The village leaders huddled over maps and old plans of the Nest and muttered about the various tunnels leading off to who knows where. The beams of light that found their way down to the hallway slowly shifted as the day progressed, like repetitive sundials insisting that their own specific time be honored. 

 

Baord and Sill had spent most of the afternoon cataloging supplies and keeping an eye on the wayward cattle that kept straying dangerously close to the torches with wide eyed bovine curiosity.  Both of them wanted to be the first find the way to the rumored endless storage rooms of the Nest.

 

After the evening meal, the two boys asked Krell for permission to explore and were given stern warnings about sticking together and mapping their way precisely.  It was no more than a half an hour later that they rounded a corner and saw an exquisite white fox sitting calmly in the center of a conservatory, staring at them as it flicked the tip of its tail.

 

---

 

Bepp looked at Olbuf and rested her hand on his brow for a moment.  She wished she could just sit here and tend to him but he was fine and breathing evenly. There was no need to hover over him.  Bepp got up and followed the green woman through the dining room to the kitchen, curious about what was so important. Trep and Port had pulled out huge piles of foodstuffs out of the cavernous storage rooms off the kitchen and were using the walls of the kitchen as stock lists.

 

“We have plenty of dried mushrooms but we’re a bit short of dried herbs. We can make plenty of stew but need to find something to season it with or we’ll get a bit stircrazy with bland and blah” said Port.

 

“No idea how to solve that one,” said Trep with a shrug.  “Better bland food than no food at all.” 

 

The green woman looked at the chaos in the kitchen with mirth.  “Better not let Oridi see this mess or she’ll have your guts for garters,” she said with a smile. “Trep, Port, sitting in the front entryway is a woman - Farseer Fallow.  She came with a small group of people yesterday, led by someone named Chancellor Mirl, and they are currently camped outside the front of the castle.

 

“Get them inside,” gasped Trep.  “They’ll die out there – get them in!” He pushed past a teetering stack of boxes full of jam filled jars, intent on getting to the front door.

 

Bepp grabbed his arm as he went past. “They’re likely here to kill me.  At minimum they’re here to take over the Nest.”

 

Trep stopped dead in his tracks. “Kill you? Why would they kill you?”

 

Bepp spoke quietly. “Orders from the King.  I reviewed the planetary records for Parl and noticed that the Winter is longer and longer and the rest of the cycle is shrinking drastically.  My calculations show that the current Winter will not end before the next one begins.  When I used a Farseer to bring my discovery to the attention of the King he told me that Winter was lengthening on all the inner planets and that not only that but the planets themselves were freezing to the point of destruction.  The planets are failing, falling to the endless cold of eternal Winter.

A few minutes after my conversation with the King, the Farseer that I had hired to speak with him was killed.  I should have been killed as well but I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve in spite of my doddering old age.”  Bepp opened her mouth to say more but no words came out. 

 

Port managed to stutter out a few words. “The whole planet? All the inner planets?”

 

The green woman slowly sank to sit on a crate of tea. “This explains many of the visions I’ve been having. Destruction on a scale I’ve never before seen. Forests laid waste and waves of icey rubble crashing over cities.” She fell silent, focusing on her inner sight.

 

“And these people outside are from the King, sent to kill you?” asked Trep.  “What do we do?  I can stand on the wall and keep the Hunger from them for a bit but eventually they’re going to die out there. And we’ll be the ones responsible for their deaths.”

 

Port looked at Trep as if he was crazy. “The people outside are going to die anyway.  We’re all going to die anyway.  What does it matter when?”

 

Trep leaned against the edge of a table and spoke softly.  “We cannot let a life pass if there is the chance to save it.  Until we are forced to kill them, let us save them.” A tear rolled down his cheek, followed by a flood as he wept yet again for his lost love.

 

Bepp stood up, relieved at letting her secret slip and having others to share the load of such horrific news. “Let them in.  Perhaps they can be served tea that will allow them to sleep for a bit and we can sort them out one by one. I will stay out of sight until we know it’s safe.”

 

Trep ran out of the kitchen to open the front door and Bepp headed back to the room where Olbuf lay. 

As Trep unbarred the door and started to heave it open, a cry came from the sickroom.

 

“Olbuf!  Where is Olbuf?” 

 

Bepp ran into the entryway, frantic and shouting for her son.  “He’s gone!  Where is he?” As she stood in the midst of the entryway, Trep finished tugging the door open and Bepp could be seen by Chancellor Mirl’s group outside, framed by the huge doorway.

 

“Bepp!” roared Mirl, and he was barreling towards the open door in a moment, calling to his troops to kill her as his bodyguards took off after him, racing to keep up. All the frustration at his demotion rose in him and he unsheathed a dagger, prepared to skewer her through and through for causing him such disfavor with the King.

 

Bepp froze, then took off running back to the kitchen. She needed to get into the weapon room and equip herself and that was the fastest route to get there. She paused only a moment in the doorway of the kitchen to shout to Port, “Find Olbuf!” before she headed to the armory.  Her heart ached for her missing son but first she had to live if she wanted to be of any use to anyone.

 

---

 

Olbuf had felt his mother’s hand on his forehead and heard her leave.  He felt so comfortable lying there and it was such a shame he had to move. It had been good to see her.  There was little time left and he was happy he’d had her attention for even just a bit.

 

Olbuf had rarely seen his mother growing up. His father raised him, mostly on campaigns, and his life was about training and surviving and developing into a warrior.  The rare times he’d been able to spend an afternoon with her were usually on his birthday and they would talk quietly and she’d let him throw her quicksilver knife.  She was mercurial, beautiful, smart and deadly.  He’d never met her like in any other woman though a few times he’d come close.  His temper and his bluster always drove them away though.  He knew that now.

 

The cold pressed against the inside of his thigh bone again, still low but higher than before.  The cut from his battleaxe had fallen too low on his leg and he could feel the slightest trace of Hunger still working inside him, moving cell by cell, always upwards.  Relentless, chilling, and doom to everyone in the Nest. 

 

He knew the road before him.  He breathed in deeply and sat up on the bed, waiting for the dizziness to pass. With another deep breath he let his good leg swing off the bed and tested his weight on it.  Difficult but not impossible. He stood up on his one leg and let himself half hop, half fall to the doorway into the front entryway of the Nest.  He saw a woman in a Farseer robe sitting by the fire, mesmerized by the flames with a cup of fallen tea on the floor next to her chair. 

 

He fell halfway across the entryway and crawled best he could to the stairs. One at a time he pulled himself up, mindful of the limited time he had and using his massive arms to keep moving upwards.  Once at the top he didn’t rest, but rolled himself through the great hall to the door of the Star Tower. 

 

Getting the door to the Tower open stumped him for a bit but then he thought to prop himself up against the door and he reached the handle easily.  He pulled himself up the first bend of the stairs and watched the door slowly close below.  The most difficult part was over and the worst was yet to come.

 

He was shivering with cold, though his body was on fire.  Step by step he dragged himself upwards, finally reaching the doorway to the room at the top as he felt the Hunger work its way faster and faster through his leg. It was nearly to his hip now, fueled by his efforts and energy.

 

Propping himself up to open the door was much harder this time but he only had this last door to get through.  He fell into the room and lay on the floor as the crows inside all swirled through the air, cawing raucously, their wings extended, pinfeathers shifting slightly as they circled and watched him Turning before them. 

He knew then, what they were. He knew what they were calling to him when he came home to the Nest, and what they meant as they landed on his shoulders and muttered in his ear, with their small caws and nibbles.

 

They were there to bear witness, to record with their dead black eyes the passing of time and the destruction of all things. Their cries and caws were calling out his worth as a corpse, and the value of the resources his body would give up upon death.

 

They were carrion feeders, feasting on the remains after time brought death to do its endless work.  The crows  swarmed in a dance of relentless evaluation, waiting for his stillness and the moment when they could land upon him and rob him of all that he was or could have ever been. Waiting for crowfall.

 

Olbuf grimaced and reached for the closest windowsill.  One more thing and he’d be done.  The crows fell silent, watching him battle his weakness and the Hunger.  Olbuf pulled himself up onto the window ledge halfway, his body wracked with spasms of pain. 

 

The window faced North and he could see the Hunger dancing on the snow below.  He heaved one more time with the last bit of strength in his arms and tumbled himself over the ledge, falling the endless distance as the crows took flight to follow him down.

 

 

The Crowfall Chronicles - Part 19 of 20 - http://community.crowfall.com/index.php?/topic/5717-the-crowfall-chronicles-part-19-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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