It had taken Finn the majority of the next day to scout the last known locations of the caravan ambush sites. Finally, he had sourced tracks leading towards the rocky outcrops of the foothills that bordered Ascalon territory with the Shiverpeaks to the far west. Whatever band of Charr had assaulted these merchants were far separated from the known battlelines to the north. Stragglers, thought Finn, as he detected further footprints in the dust.
The ranger sprinted back to where Lady Aranoia’s caravan was tucked away from view. The well dressed woman looked up apprehensively as the blond man approached. “Well?” she demanded.
Finn sighed audibly, with little excitement evident within his attitude. “There are clear signs of activity here. I would take the caravan through the pass up ahead. If these Charr are here, I believe they will make themselves shown to an unprotected caravan.”
Lady Aranoia smiled slowly and confidently. “Good. Then we proceed as planned. I hope you are right Mr. Ferral. The day grows old and we must consider turning back to Ascalon with the next few hours. I would hate to moderate your reward if we were to waste a whole day.”
Finn shrugged, as if worst things had happened to him. “I give you my honest recommendation. Take the caravan down this trail, and you will find your Charr.”
The woman snapped her fingers and a number of guardsmen approached to address her. The men were simple, cheap swordsmen, easily recruited for standard escorting tasks. Any hire work that involved killing Charr tended to easily attract the naïve budding guardsmen of the city, and Lady Aranoia had clearly taken advantage of having a certain level of protection for the trip. They would serve a good purpose too, Finn reflected, as he reminded himself of the plan that had been decided. Using one of the caravan’s, they would smuggle the guardsmen under a canopy, so as to make the cart look like a goods train. Even a yak had been purchased to pull the cart, to make it look like the carriage was Shiverpeak bound.
“And you will still take the reins?” Lady Aranoia asked the ranger, as the swordsmen nearby climbed into the back of the carriage.
“At the agreed price of an extra platinum, we agreed,” reminded Finn.
“We did,” Lady Aranoia smiled, satisfied.
Finn helped cover the smuggled men under the leather blanket that covered the cart, before balancing the sheath of arrows at his back and vaulting up onto the yak’s hind. The creature released a low pine as it bore the ranger on its back, its head lowering as it shook its wool-covered neck. Four more swordmen stood to flank the yak-driven cart as they slowly headed out into the valley, leaving the remainder of Lady Aranoia’s caravan safely behind. “Bring me back my albino Charr hides, Finn Ferral,” Lady Aranoia called out after them. But Finn didn’t look back to acknowledge.
They slowly descended into the valley, with the distant teeth of the Shiverpeaks looming like a ghostly jawline on the horizon. The rocks and boulders so common on the Ascalon plains had gained size and volume as the day had passed, and now the western foothills created large rises and small mountains amongst the grey dust. The valley they entered snaked a path directly in-between two of the largest hills that they had so far encountered. The walls of the hills even reached upwards into sheer walls of broken rock and Finn found himself subtly searching for signs of danger amongst the many outcroppings that pocketed their surfaces.
The ranger began to lose heart as they made further ground into the valley without sign of aggression. It was several minutes later when he noted something far ahead, stretching across the floor of the valley and directly in their path. As the caravan approached, the ranger peered outwards, noting that a large tree had toppled perfectly to block their way. Finn stood upon the haunches of his saddle to gain a better angle of view. There was little tree life in these parts of western Ascalon, and to see the great birth of an oak tree placed directly in their path seemed particularly odd to him.
“That’s a big tree,” commented one of the guardsmen to the side of the yak.
“We will need to move it if we wish to progress,” commented another.
“Maybe we should turn back,” sighed Finn, with resignation in his voice.
“No chance,” came another reply from one of the footsoldiers. “I ain’t taking half pay just ‘cos of a tree. The four of us can lift it out of the way.”
“Are you sure?” replied Finn, a look of doubt crossing his face as he looked at the size of the obstacle. “Even an ettin would struggle to lift that.”
“No sweat,” one of the soldiers replied. “We’re Ascalonian soldiers, sir. They don’t call me Fredigar Leetshire for nothin’. Me and the boys will take care of this.”
The four warriors ran towards the fallen tree as the yak made its slow progression onwards. Finn stared out towards the many outcroppings and boulders scattered around the valley floor, and something unnerved him about the situation. As the warriors finally approached the tree, they dropped their shields and swords to prepare themselves for the hauling of the large trunk. Finn watched onwards as a final dazzle of late sunshine slipped through one of the gaps in the foothills ahead, revealing a glossy shine that appeared to reflect off the surface of the fallen trunk.
A sense of urgency bolted into Finn’s stomach. “Wait!” he shouted out to the guards. “Wait, it’s a trap!”
“Wussy ranger,” laughed one of the guardsmen to his fellows as he reached out to take a strong grip of the large trunk. Each of them began to take hold in an effort to shift the giant bulk.
“It’s heavy, boss,” replied one of the men, a strain appearing on his face. “Perhaps the ranger was…”
There was a clear, guttural howl that echoed across the valley. From behind several boulders rose the large distinctive shapes of a dozen Charr, brandishing cruel jagged weapons. Their fur was bright white that contrasted against the dusty soil of the foothills. As one, they howled down the slopes of the valley towards the four men.
“To arms!” shouted one of the men, and he tried to turn back towards his weapon but abruptly halted, his hands fastened to the tree trunk.
“Boss, I can’t let go….”
The warrior tried to peel his hands from the surface but they were fixed fast against the tree. He peered closer at the trunk, noting the shiny surface of strange oil that glossed its bark. “Some sort of adhesive…,” the warrior panicked.
With their swords and shields sitting dormant at their feet, Finn watched from the back of the yak with helplessness, as the Charr warband swept into the four swordsmen, chopping at their defenceless forms with viscous swipes of their jagged weapons, as the guardmen screamed out for mercy.
“Hyaaa!” Finn cried, pounding the flanks of the yak with his heels. The woollen beast lurched into a steady gait as it moaned in complaint. The caravan attached to its hind bounced and rocked against the hard, rocky floor as the pace of the beast increased, and it was no surprise when Finn heard the shouts of the men in the rear carriage.
The leather cover was torn away as the men came to view the surroundings. “Time for battle gentlemen,” called Finn, as he stood upwards in the footholds of the saddle. He reached out for the emblazoned flatbow at his back, notching an arrow deftly, despite the bouncy ride.
The arrow flew straight and sound with a whistling scream of air, its tip jagged and designed to accelerate the bleeding of any wound it caused. The extra condition of the wound may not have mattered in this instance as the solid strike of its flight lifted one of the Charr off its feet to fly over the bulk of the fallen tree and crash into the ground beyond.
Still buoyant from bloodlust, the Charr turned to face the oncoming beast and its burden. Finn grasped at the long wool at the yaks neck with one hand, guiding the beast towards the group and shouting encouragement into the yak’s ears. Then he scrambled backwards, away from the saddle and towards the rear hind of the giant mule. “Time to depart,” Finn instructed the confused men in the carriage below, as he jumped from the beast and into the cart beside them. He turned quickly, producing two arrows this time, and placing them in a V-shape against the taut length of his bowstring. They sprung simultaneously from the bow to rip through the two harness straps that combined the yak and the wheeled carriage. The front of the cart dipped instantly, crashing into the dusty soil and tearing a tiny gorge through the ground with its momentum.
The yak didn’t slow, and without the weight of its harness the beast charged forwards without any desire to stop. The albino Charr ahead leapt to avoid the crushing blows of its footfalls as it bounded past them and leaped over the tree beyond.
As the Charr scrambled back to their feet, the cart slowly slid into view beside them, with a grim looking ranger and a dozen shaken warriors sitting and standing onboard.
There was an explosion of movement as both sides surged into battle. A one-horned beast with demon like eyes roared at Finn, flecks of spittle splashing him in the face as he spun in a whirling movement, deflecting several blows with the armor plates of his sleeves, and using his bow to parry another fast jagged strike so as to gain initiative. The beast’s swipe rebounded wide to allow Finn to tuck his bow across his chest and fire a point blank shot into the creature’s chest. As the creature fell, he jumped to land a foot on the creature’s horned shoulder, springing up and over it to land on the soil beyond.
Before he could balance himself, a large axe angled towards him, aimed straight at his head. Finn ducked desperately to avoid the blow, but his position left him exposed as another Charr lurched outwards with its shield to slam him against the face. The ranger toppled over, his back slamming into the ground. The white Charr before him looked down over him, its eyes pink and evil as it grinned with bloodthirsty malevolence.
Finn rocked on his back, shifting his weight onto the backs of his shoulders, to enable him to lift both his feet from the ground and place them against the furry chest of the towering beast. Bending his knees as the Charr loomed forward to strike, he pushed out at the last minute to kick the monster away from him. The Charr toppled backwards, its furred spine crashing into the tree trunk behind it. Clambering to his feet, Finn watched as the Charr tried to lift itself back towards the fray, only to find its back fastened against its own trap. The beast made to throw its axe at the ranger, but Finn raised his bow quickly, snapping a series of quick successive shots into the beast’s neck and chest to silence its roars.
To his side, the battle was delicately poised, with as many screams of pain from the guardsmen as there were roars of anguish from the Charr, and Finn watched as one of the men still on the carriage took a sickening blow across the face from a rusty machete. Finn turned to face the gangly brute that wielded the weapon, and the Charr sensed his approach, turning and swiping to heed the ranger away. Finn ducked, his right hand scooping a fistful of dusty soil from the barren ground, and hurling it into the beasts face. The Charr roared at the sting in its eyes, as it blindly searched for the ranger with clumsy swipes of its sword. Dodging and weaving between the blows, Finn readied another arrow, bending the string back at its most extreme length, before powering a deadly shot into the creature’s gut.
Before he had time to turn and choose his next opponent, a heavy object crashed into Finn’s side. Stumbling over and bouncing to the floor, he shook the dust from his eyes and looked down to see that the body of one of the swordmen had been thrown into him. Finn reached for his bow, but the weight of the soldier’s body pinned his weapon to the ground.
Two of the remaining Charr sensed his hopelessness and they stalked forwards. Frantically trying to retrieve his weapon, Finn watched one steady its blade whilst the other gripped apprehensively at its axe haft.
The Charr with the sword swung heavily in a downward chop towards his groin. Eyes wide in surprise, the ranger twisted on the ground and rolled to the side, leaving the blade to bite into the dust floor. No sooner had he rolled back into a position to look up, Finn noted the swipe of the other Charr’s axe heading his way, with the beast balking a strange series of angry roars at him. “Stand still, mutton!” The beast roared, “Me and mine needs feedin’!”
Finn scrambled backwards in a desperate effort to escape the brute, but without a way to defend himself, or a means to fight back, the ranger’s hopes were slowly fading. “I’m sure you could find better delicacies than a worn-out ranger,” Finn replied in hope.
“I ain’t fussy!” grinned the Charr, as it bounded forwards for the kill.
In mid-leap, the Charr was suddenly catapulted to the side as a great ball of fur and fangs leapt into it. Crashing to the side, Finn looked up in surprise to see Shadow Paw tearing and ripping at the Charr’s neck with its colossal claws. As the Charr screamed in terror, its sword wielding comapnion nearby zoned back in to attack.
Still without weapon, Finn climbed to his feet and back peddled away. Looking at his weapon that was far out of reach, Finn cursed. If he could get to his bow, the beast would be an easy kill.
As if on cue, two large burning arrows plunged into the Charr’s chest in quick succession, puncturing deep wounds into its body as flames licked up and around its neck fur. Howling in derision, the Charr staggered backwards in surprise. Guessing where the arrows had come from, Finn leapt towards the swordsman’s body nearby, hauling the warm corpse over to retrieve his flatbow in haste. Swifly notching another arrow, he turned to aim directly between the stumbling beasts eyes and released a thunderous missile into its forehead. The creature flipped backwards and crashed into the carriage beyond.
The heavy weight of the Charr’s body dropped the rear of the carriage to the floor like a see-saw. A number of swordsmen and Charr that were deep in melee on the other side catapulted into the air and crashed to the dirt like the fallen fruit of a tree.
“Oops,” muttered Finn, as he took stock of the situation. A number of Charr were deeply occupied in exchanging blows with the remaining guardsmen, but none of them seemed intent on the ranger at that time. Carefully and methodically he sent arrows into the fray to turn the tide of the battle. The sound of ripped flash and torn fur accompanied the parrying weapons of the combatant as one by one the Charr began to fall.
Noting that the battle was beginning to sway towards the favour of the humans, one of the Charr bolted from the scene, leaping over the fallen trunk and lurching away as fast as possible. Finn smiled assuredly, preparing to crippled the beast in its tracks, but reached over his shoulder to find that he had run out of arrows. “Bah!” The ranger turned to see if Shadow Paw could take pursuit but the lynx was no longer in view. Scanning the nearby rocks, the ranger looked for the animal and the woman that mastered it, but there was no sign of Tavari either. “Thanks, TT,” Finn whispered to himself, “where ever you are.”
The ranger was distracted by a series of cheers from the swordsmen as the last of the fighting Charr fell to the ground. The ranger joined up with the men, clapping them on the shoulders as they celebrated their hard-fought victory.
“Quick, let us gather the fallen and collect the bodies of the Charr,” Finn instructed, looking at the several albino corpses. Lady Aranoia should be happy with this haul, and that would mean a decent level of pay. Finn looked for the yak, but the giant beast had long fled from view. “Lets get the bodies back onto the carriage. We will have to pull it ourselves.”
The swordsmen let out a chorus of groans, but none refused, as they all knew it was the only way to get the bodies back to the main caravan. With their combat weary limbs complaining at every step, the men struggled back up the slope of the valley to finally reach the awaiting caravan moments before sundown.
“Marvellous, just marvellous,” Lady Aranoia grinned, clasping her hands together with glee. “I was worried that we would have to leave you out here, with the day waning. Such a shame that we lost a number of good men.” She smiled with satisfaction at Finn.
Less pay out for you, thought the ranger, as he stared back at her.
“The light of day is fast receding. Let us take the spoils and we can return to the comforts of our homes. Quick, men, before darkness takes hold, let us cut the fur from their flesh.”
Finn looked puzzled as Lady Aranoia instructed Leonard to hand out a number of crenellated knives to the men. One by one, the men took the knives as if it were part of their duty to obey. Finally, the young man offered a knife to the tall blond ranger. “You mean us to rip the fur from their corpses here?”
“Absolutely,” smiled Lady Aranoia from behind her son. “I can’t be taking fresh Charr bodies back to my home now, can I Mr. Ferral? Would you be so kind as to assist?”
Finn looked back at her with a expression of disgust. “I’d rather not.”
Clasping the shoulders of her son, Lady Aranoia looked back through her heavy eyelids with a bemused smile. “Suit yourself.”
Finn turned away, trying to occupy himself with the view of the fiery dying sun as the sounds of ripping and tearing echoed across the area. He noted a number of the swordmen laughing as they performed the vile task. A feeling of bile rose in his throat, but he suppressed it, knowing that he was associated with this ‘activity’ through desperation. Moments passed as he reflected back on his recent life, and he longed to be performing the heroic tasks of old as he had done when he helped fight for Ascalon’s glory. Finn sighed as he watched the declining light of the day. He had no choice now, but to do what ever he needed to do to survive.
“Grave news, Mr. Ferral.”
Finn turned to see that Lady Aranoia had approached him under the growing darkness. “I am sad to say we are short of a coat or two.”
“A coat?” Finn replied, confused.
“The albino hides.” She stated. “There are not quite enough for my Leonard’s armor.”
“I’m terribly sorry for you,” Finn replied, uncaring.
“One of the swordsmen mentioned that a Charr escaped from the battle.”
Finn rubbed at the sore bruise across his shoulders. “I have done what you have asked for me,” the ranger replied. “The day is old and I wish to return to the city with my pay.”
“Find me that Charr, Mr, Ferral, and I will pay you double.”
“Double?” The ranger looked surprised as Lady Aranoia smiled back. Six platinum just for hunting down a lone charr?
“I am desperate to make this armor, my dear ranger. No more delays. We will rest the caravan here and build a campfire. I will wait no more than two hours for your return. Find me this remaining Charr and you will be able to enjoy many comforts when we return to Ascalon.”
Finn scratched at the stubble across his face and tied his hair back with his leather band, before reaching for his quiver of arrows and his bow. “Two hours you say?” reconfirmed the ranger.
Lady Aranoia nodded.
“I will be back in one,” Finn called out, as he darted swiftly away into the darkness of the valley.
The tracks had led to a cave settled deep within one of the foothills. Finn waited behind an outcropping to study the entrance for several moments before deciding that the only way to be sure the lone Charr had fled to this location was to investigate himself. The clearing was covered in darkness now that night had fully settled, and only the absence of stars on the horizon informed Finn where the foothills bordered the area.
The ranger approached the cave slowly and noted a vast amount of bones scattered outside. Some were clearly human, whilst a variety of others types appeared to have been dropped haphazardly in the area – hog bones, and chicken he noted. Thought of the ambushed food caravans came to mind, and Finn bolstered his approaching as he realised he must have found the camping quarters of the albino Charr.
A low throated growl sounded nearby that put Finn into an immediate defensive stance. He peered around frantically to locate the source of the sound and finally settled his eyes towards a barely noticed pair of silhouette’s from across the way. One crouched on its fore-quarters whilst a diminutive female figure reached down to stroke its flank.
“Tavari,” Finn kept his voice low in the darkness.
“Off to kill the Charr in its bed, Finn?”
“This is no business of yours,” Finn retorted as he turned away from her judgmental look.
“Are you so desperate, Finn, that you need to do this?”
“What choice do I have? It’s my life. I don’t need help with it.”
“Like you didn’t need help earlier, in the valley?”
Finn cursed and brought his eyes down to the bow in his hand, as he inspected it nervously. “I didn’t ask you to follow me. Why do you need to be concerned about my life? I’m just a failure.”
“You’re a friend, Finn. The man I see before me is not the man I know. You are better than this.”
“Once,” Finn replied, as he prepared to enter the cave. “Once I was maybe. Not now.”
Tavari watched as the tall ranger ducked into the entrance of the cave, her lips parting to release a deep sigh as she shook her head. Shadow Paw whined as the great cat licked at her hand. “I should put a broad headed arrow to that guys skull, and see which of the two is the thickest,” she commented to the cat, who purred in agreement.
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08-11-2007, 00:38 #21
Last edited by FinnFerral; 08-11-2007 at 01:04.
08-11-2007, 01:04 #22Charr Hides
The walls of the cave closed in around him, as Finn squatted through the shallow tunnel. Charr prints were abundant in the light dust of the passage, and a brief yelp from ahead indicated that his prey was just ahead. The tunnel bent slightly ahead, and shuffling sounds could be heard from beyond. Knowing that his quarry was nearby, Finn lit a torch and hurled it down the corridor.
“I am here for you beast!”
A thunderous roar emanated from the darkness around the corner, and without delay an albino Charr sprang from concealment. It was the same Charr that had escaped the battle earlier and Finn noted the several cuts across its sides that it had received that day.
The beast had no desire to parlay, its sword gripped tightly in its paw, despite the fact that the Charr had clearly unhitched its battle armor. The beast was pure white, its fur the color of a snowwolf, its eyes glossy red in the reflection of the burning torch nearby. With two giant strides, the Charr launched itself at the ranger, dipping its head to impale the man with its great horned head.
Finn sidestepped easily, lifting one foot to bounce off the side of the passage wall, and turning in mid-flight to face the back of the creature as it passed. He loaded an arrow swiftly and thumped the projectile into the hamstring of the creature.
The beast roared as it turned back to face the ranger. To his side, Finn thought he heard a high pitched whimper from the darker recesses of the cave, but his attention was more focused on the Charr before him that was returning to the fight.
Finn shot another arrow at directly at the creature’s chest, loading another missile quickly as the limping pace of the creature failed to slow. “I will kill you, meat, and feed you to my family!” The beast finally roared, as he launched himself with abandon at the ranger.
Finn darted sideways, catching a clip of the blade to his shoulder, wondering how the beast was still standing from the powerful blow of the arrow that he released as he passed.
Beyond the ranger’s belief, the Charr turned again to renew another charge. The ranger had never seen such anger before in one of the beasts, as if it was protecting something far more valuable than its own life. Wondering how many arrows it would take to topple the Charr, Finn sensed movement to his side.
Shadow Paw rushed past, leaping into the surprised beast and pinning it to the ground ahead with an almighty crash.
Finn loaded an arrow, trying to peer past the lynx, waiting to find an opportunity to finish the albino monster once and for all.
“Oh my god, Finn,” Tavari’s voiced jolted his concentration. Finn looked to his side to see that the female ranger had followed him into the cave and had lifted the fallen torch he had flung to the floor. The male ranger followed her line of sight as she lifted the burning torch to reveal the deeper recesses of the cave.
Settled at the back of the cave where a number of what could only be young female Charr. Each one of them were albino in the same manner as the creature’s Finn had fought earlier. Scattered around the cave where several smaller shapes. Some tottered clumsily or crawled whilst others appeared to be attached to the female Charr beyond, as if suckling for food.
Tavari looked down at one of the shapes nearby, a small bundle of white fur with tiny paws and a stunted snout, its wide pink eyes looking back with amazement at the female ranger. “Oh my god,” she repeated. “They’re babies.”
Finn snorted as he focused back on the toppled Charr warrior before him. Shadow Paw had released the beast from its pinning jump, and the cat trotted past Finn to rejoin its master. The Charr remained motionless on the floor before the warrior, its breathing ragged and course.
“Why are you breeding here?” demanded Finn, as he prodded the drawn arrow closer towards the monster.
Gasping and choking on blood, the Charr turned its pink eyes upwards towards the blond ranger. “Why? We live here, human.”
“These are lands owned by King Adelbern of Ascalon. Charr are not welcome here.” Finn retorted.
“Albino charr have no land they can call their home, human. We are seen as outcasts by our own kind. If we are lucky, they use us as front line troops. Fodder, if you will. But the war is over and we would have little mercy in our own home.” The creature spat through a canine-lined jaw, coughing blood between words.
“Then why here?”
“We are trapped in your lands, human, and doing nothing more than trying to survive. We are hiding.”
Finn wanted to release the arrow, to send this ugly beast to its fate and rid his homeland of one more Charr. He wanted to haul its body back to Lady Aranoia and take his hard earned reward. He wanted to complete his job and reclaim the honorable life he once knew.
“Finn?” Tavari’s voice called out to him. “Let’s leave this place.”
Without releasing his aim of the bow, Finn turned again to look into the cave. One of the white Charr pups had crawled closer to him, its eyes wide with curiosity as he viewed him with its shining pink eyes. It released a tiny, harmless squeak of interest.
Finn stared back, lost in mixed feelings. He wanted honor, he wanted to regain his self respect, he wanted to be making a difference to the world. And the sudden thought of slaying this wicked beast in front of its own children didn’t appeal to Finn as the right thing to do. It didn’t feel to the ranger like he was regaining his self-respect, he was just making it worse.
Finn turned back to the Charr before him, and lowered the bow. A brief moment made him consider raising the weapon again as the Charr coughed with bestial rasping, but once again Finn’s confusion overcame him and the ranger walked slowly backwards and away. He had to get out of this place.
“I need to get out of here,” replied the ranger, his gaze switching from the injured Charr ahead to the small bundles of baby albino Charr that were waddling around the cavern floor as he backed away.
Looking back as one of the baby Charr toppled over onto its hindquarters and let out a surprised hiccup, Tavari eyes softened slightly as she slowly back away to exit the cave.
“What do you mean you couldn’t find it!” screamed Lady Aranoia.
“I was wrong, I followed the wrong tracks.” Finn replied, as he prepared his possessions for the long trek back to Ascalon.
“Are you telling me,” Lady Aranoia probed aggressively, “that the tracks you followed and the cave you discovered did not yield the albino Charr? What sort of ranger are you?”
“Not a very good one,” replied Finn, with a resigned look in his eyes.
“I don’t believe you,” the angry woman replied. “Let us go back to the cave.” She turned to the snarling young man that was her son. “Leonard will find the beast and slay it.”
“There was no Charr,” Tavari interrupted, and the woman turned to look at her with scorn. “It was something else,” she offered.
“Something else? What else could it have been other than our albino?”
“A bear,” Tavari replied, drawing a shocked look from the woman. The female ranger reached into her belt pouch and lifted an object for all nearby to see. “A polar bear, that had wandered down from the Shiverpeaks.” Tavari threw the object towards Lady Aranoia.
The woman caught the item and held it up for her inspection. The talon she viewed was clearly that of a bear’s.
“Bah, imbeciles,” she stormed. “I ask of you a simple task and all you manage to do is slay a stupid bear. You are both useless rangers. I do not expect to have to pay my good hard-earned money for such idiocy. Consider yourself fired, Mr. Ferral. I no longer require your services.” She threw the bear claw back at Tavari with anger.
Finn’s wrist flicked out and caught the talon in mid-flight. “Let’s go, T.”
The rangers turned and walked away from the caravan camp, leaving Lady Aranoia kicking at the dust and shouting at Leonard with fury.
“Where to, Finn?” Tavari turned to ask as Shadow Paw stalked after them.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Finn replied, looking about at the darkness of the wilderness.
“I have somewhere you can stay. How does pumpkin soup sound?” She smiled at him.
Finn’s belly rumbled uncontrollably. “You’ve done enough for me, Tav. I’ll manage.”
Tavari cried out in frustration. “Have you learnt nothing today?” she questioned, exasperated. “Why do you push your friends away when you need them the most?”
Finn turned with a sorry look in his eyes. “I’m sorry, Tav. It’s my pride. I’m not comfortable being the subject of charity.”
“Charity? Oh, a nice meal and ceiling over your head isn’t free you know. I’m not having a stinky ranger like you stay over without you having a good bath first.”
Finn looked down at himself puzzled. He lifted a hand to his head to ruffle his own hair, producing a shower of dust from the tangles. “Am I that bad?” asked the ranger.
Shadow Paw stalked beside the blond ranger and turned to sniff at the man’s leg. With a sudden shake of its head, the cat bowed its neck before sneezing profusely with disgust.
Finn looked down at the cat, his feelings seemingly hurt by the animal’s reaction.
Tavari tried to stifle a laugh as Shadow Paw backed away playfully. “You said it yourself, Finn,” she smiled at the confused ranger. “Our pets know things about us more than we tend to realise.”
Slow comprehension dawned on Finn’s face as his look of confusion became a smile, his smile turned to a chuckle, and his chuckle became an embarrassed but genuine laugh.
Looking up at the blond haired ranger, Tavari smiled back with joy and could no longer hide her own merriment at the situation.
It was good to hear Finn laugh again.
Last edited by FinnFerral; 08-11-2007 at 01:28.
08-11-2007, 01:24 #23
Reaction after reading Part 2:
I'm using Broad Head Arrow on Finn Ferral!
After Part 3...
Aww baby Charr! Now I want a mini-Charr...
Thanks for the story, Finn! Made me feel all warm and fuzzy <3
Off to the Shiverpeaks?
08-11-2007, 01:26 #24
I feel bad posting so soon after finn's fine story, but this is coincidence! This is a short thing I wrote. It is from many years in the future (approx 50-60), before GW2. A little PoV from a woman who sees what happens when Emperor Usoku rises to power in Cantha.
A letter from some time around 1127 AE…
I have not sung in years. My voice has grown hoarse, perhaps from over use. Pardon me, I grow old in my time, I beg indulgence for my first words to be about my voice, my treasure, my saving grace and the one trait I am best remembered by. I know that you requested about how I am, if I am faring well through the troubles. I am well enough, save as I mentioned that I miss my singing.
I get out three times each day. First in the morning I go to all the stations of the gods around the Academy, I say the prayers and think of what I would have sung, but my dear granddaughter Nika sings the words. She takes after me, though she does have her grandfather’s eyes and sometimes I think she has his laugh as well. I miss him. Midday and I am among the hives where my brother and grandfather’s ashes are scattered. Right now, in spring beneath the apple blossoms, it is beautiful and I am reminded of my youth. In the evening I go to the river if it is mild, to see the lotus growing in the backwaters, or if it is inclement a short walk in the cloisters.
Yes, I digress. You wrote asking of the troubles, as of course I understand you run a trading house and not a teahouse for gossiping grandmothers. Certainly, I could keep you entertained with all of the stories that have passed by with my sons and daughters, of war, fashion and foolishness. It all comes to one thing now; that the Empire has demanded that we grant them entry to all of our towns. Each Great House has an Imperial Herald who is allowed into all private councils. The Empire demands a great many things, namely that we give up what we were and what we are. If we resist then we are punished, but our obedience is rewarded with poverty and disrespect.
They have demanded that we close the old Academy and that we send our noble sons only to Shing Jea for proper teaching in imperial etiquette and language. It was five years ago that Brauer Academy was closed to students. Its halls are silent and the ferns grow in the broken windows…windows broken by imperial soldiers throwing rocks. We had lost then, and there was nothing I could say to stop them. They let me talk now, but now there is nothing really worth saying. I am a pretty puppet, a painted doll in my ancestor's clothing.
I was at House Zu Heltzer when the Emperor’s Voice arrived in great splendor, in a chariot drawn by phoenix. He would not allow any of us to speak to him in our native tongue. I learned Canthan when I was a girl and I have long forgotten it, just as I have forgotten what little Tyrian I learned from you. It was the height of arrogance to be addressed like peasants, the proclamation shouted to us in high imperial legal jargon. No translation provided and it was from my clerk that I found out what was said.
They took my eldest to Kaineng and I have heard nothing from him for three months. I worry about him, though the Imperial Heralds insist he is held in comfort within the palaces at Raisu. I try to convince myself this is true, but I cannot shake the dread in my heart, that when I die he will not return home. I worry that this new emperor means to choke Kurzick life at its roots and that we will not ever be the same. This year a certain number of our children did not come back from Shing Jea, but they willingly went to work in the bureaucracy of the great city, having been trained to believe it is a greater good and a demonstration of piety.
You are right in asking if there has been battle. Yes, and I support it, though I may not speak of it. I have turned a blind eye to Kurzick rebels. I had only once to tell my advisors to not mention if such people were on Brauer lands. That way, if an Imperial Herald asks me, I have no true knowledge, and perhaps my son will be in safety while maybe we still have a chance to resist this ridiculous breech of the ancient law. I remember reading the old edict, one line reads ‘as everlasting as precious jade and as eternal as the middle ocean’, but in this age jade is fragile and the ocean laps on shores other than the Emperor’s, for he does not regard the will of his sires.
Each day I notice something else. Today, I saw a man brought to the courtyard. He had done something wrong, what exactly I was not told, and two imperial guards put him on an ox cart to be taken away. My input was not asked, though I know he was a member of my household. I raged at my assigned herald, but he gave me a severe look and told me it was not my concern. He talks to me like a child. I cannot tell if my anger in the end is over that poor man being taken away or the way Herald Haku addresses me like some pink cheeked babe.
Most honestly, I wish for Emperor Usoku to die. I wish for Balthazar to afflict him with a fire in his heart and Grenth with stones in his deepest gut. I hope for him to have the worst physicians and many hundreds of enemies. I can only say this because your messenger is still here waiting for me, and I trust him to bear this to you in secrecy. I hope you are well and that your ships are full to bursting with commerce. I am sorry I could not attend the wedding of your son. It is unsafe for a lady of my standing to travel outside of Echovald. It has been made clear by the accursed Herald that his Holiness the Emperor considers any Kurzick notable a fair target for assassination should we wander.
I can hear the Herald coming up the stairs with some illegible document to sign. Lyssa keep you in her grace. I must go now. Please write soon, I miss you.
Yours with the love of Dwayna,
Countess Hebesthea Rosa Brauer
08-11-2007, 01:44 #25
Omg Heb! Whee she lives!
/ponders about who she's writing to/ ... Seb?
08-11-2007, 02:50 #26
mini chars.. they're cute and fuzzy at first, but when they grow up they become vicious meat eating flesh rending savage beasts and suddenly you don't find them such good pet no more... >.>
rawr? >^..^<After all, we are all someone else’s dream. A wish and a thought. A painting forever in memories. -Forever Dreams, a GW fanfic
Fall into the darkness and embrace this solace,
And be excited by the unknown that you fear.
Tell me can you resist these strawberry lips?
-Decadence: Prayer of Starless Hearts
~* Lynthi Dorighan - Monk *~
08-11-2007, 12:40 #27
Whew, you guys really whip them up! I needed at least 2 hours for my short :O
08-11-2007, 18:57 #28
I think your's is a good start! Nothing major to critique about the writing... although perhaps spell check it (I use Word, copy/paste over and then put in italics and such) and make the breaks between paragraphs more obvious so we're not staring at a chunk of words.
08-11-2007, 19:16 #29
08-11-2007, 19:25 #30
Finn: loved your story! Ascalon's always a great setting for tales, and you tell them masterfully.
And Kalidri that's an awesome piece on developing life in the Cantha of the future. I love it when the stories and the lore are intertwined, it somehow makes them fit much better.
Sjeng: I liked the backstory; in some ways I find that having one helps bring my own characters to life a lot more. I certainly won't be complaining if you post more like this!