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-40 years after The Ragnarok and 34 years of Milvallen being ruled by Lord Keva-
Many years have passed since the fall of the leaders of the many races, and Lord Tirion himself. Keva, the once leader of Imperium and now current ruler of all Milvallen has allowed chaos to reign over the people with no laws or rules. Locking himself deep within the castle of Salus, Keva removed himself from public view and simply hoarded the wealth and power to himself... until his appearance, voice, and even gender was forgotten. The world fell into anarchy... and the people were left to fend for themselves.
For thirty-four years anarchy ruled, molesting and violating the once pure lands of Milvallen... corrupting them into something far from a utopia. This corruption was spread by those who no longer cared across the lands with subtle grace... destroying the concept of 'law' and 'order' wherever they went.
However... one simple town remained untouched by the corruption.... the tendrils of anarchy had left one town perfectly unscathed. This town known simply as Swampveil due to the surrouding marshes lay deep within the protection of the forces of nature itself. Some say that the White Stag itself had placed its blessing upon the town... leaving creatures unknown to both the people of Swampveil, and the world to protect it.
Not only was Swampveil a safe haven where law still held practice, it soon became a place where heroes would commonly come and go, searching for tasks to help the people of Milvallen in any way possible. With new faces passing by everyday, and heroes settling and leaving from the town, rumors soon spread of the simple town of Swampveil. Rumors became stories, stories became hope... and hope became warnings.
These voices reached the capital city of Salus and the cold halls of its mighty fortress. The voices then seeped into a room... and in response, a sound that all had forgotten soon emerged. Lord Keva emerged from his room suited in armor made out of a material that was alien and unfamiliar. Yet, none had questioned how he had obtained it. With a simple sentence... he had placed an extremely generous bounty on the town of Swampveil to whomever could 'purge' it of all its laws... and especially of its heroes.
Soldiers, mercenaries, bandits, demons, and many others banded together and marched towards the deadly swamps of Swampveil... all attempting to claim the bounty placed by Lord Keva. He was already plotting the demise of the other races who were rising up to battle against his rule... but Swampveil, the town of musky 'hope' came first. It had to be removed before the downfall of the other races were to start.
Unfortunately... little did Keva know, this very action of placing a bounty on Swampveil would lead to unexpected events that not even his eyes could foresee. The pen of this unforeseeable fate was now in motion and its strokes would not be stop no matter how hard he might try... for it was no longer in his hands.
In the town of Swampveil and at the time of dusk, people were rustling through the muddy streets of the town as droplets of rain passed through the branches and leaves of the tall and mighty trees that covered the skies above.
People were speaking with fear and worry of the imminent arrival of the hired forces of Keva, and others carried on their business, certain that the blessing of the White Stag would protect them. Some who were skeptical of the White Stag were busy at work, fortifying defenses and hiring passing heroes to defend their town.
Nonetheless, taverns, filled with drunks telling stories and waitresses taking orders, stores, busy with supplying adventurers and heroes alike, and inns, housing travelers from places far and wide, were all open still as people, hooded and cloaked gathered in the roads and alleys, plotting on how to handle the oncoming threat.
Whatever those new and old to the town of Swampveil would do... would soon find that the actions made here, would forever change the state of Milvallen.
edited 12th Feb '13 4:42:18 PM by Aevum
The Green Paladin stood atop a cliff overlooking Swampveil. He was wearing far more clothes than usual, and after his trek through the swamp, they were stained brown and muddy, giving him the appearance of a large, brown, moving bush. Only his eyes poked out from between the mud and the furs. He had learned that when people were on the look out for monsters, Trolls were the first to get the blame.
Katerina had said that the Stag had given her orders to get herself and him to the small town, and stop Keva from tainting the savagery and free roaming nature the city was famous for. To followers of the Stag, the city was more than a safe haven from Kevas forces, but a haven for all nature. All Cyber Arts were uncommon, and those that were found wielding them were just passing heroes, who'd soon leave on quests or such.
We watched the towns folk milling about, trying to protect themselves and their homes, and made a silent promise to the Stag that he would not let this place be tarnished. He sat on the hill and waited for the signal Katerina had told him would come.
High above the town, a majestic bird flew circles, keeping in line with the walls. Even if a hunter did see her, they would be unable to hit her. Her speed and agility allowed her to elude any arrow, and her height meant none would be foolish enough to shoot at her, lest they waste their arrows.
She swooped down into a small alley way, which was illuminated by a flash of burning light, and moments later a young girl walked out.
Katerina weaved between the streets and people, keeping an eye out for a place big enough for the Paladin to hide in wait of Kevas forces.
edited 12th Feb '13 4:57:37 PM by MusikMaestro
"Hey. Hey. Gnoll." One patron of Swampveil's tavern inparticular had taken it upon himself to make sure that this giant hyena monster a foot and a half taller than him couldn't have a peaceful knight. Quite the martyr, undertaking such an epic task.
The Gnoll grunted and stared further into his beer. He was a massive seven feet tall, enormous for a male. Not so big for a female. He wore patchwork leather armor, a backpack, and a two-handed axe. Spots covered his hide and fur frizzed out over his hunched back.
"Hey. So. How's your girlfriend? I hear it's mating season. How's her—"
The Gnoll stopped and turned to face the man. "I want you to think carefully about this, sir. I am a seasoned mercenary. I come and go from Swampveil often. One could reason that I go on many assignments in and around this town. So, I want to ask you, how would I even know what you're asking if I haven't been home in two months? Just—just a question. For consideration."
There was no actual threat there, but when, to no fault of your own, small children cried when you raise your voice, everything sounds like a threat.
The Gnoll went back to his drink, but turned around to face the bar. He had a contact arriving soon offering some kind of job. Required someone large, strong, and capable of surviving a dozen magic missiles without flinching. All of which this Gnoll could do. Now it was a matter of waiting for the contact, a young girl of some persuasion.
So Tarkus Tarragon sat on his haunches and waited for his next job.
Several miles southeast of Swampveil
It wasn't difficult for Chiko to stay back from the rest of the group of nomadic Nættir, especially now. It was usually her job to step ahead of everyone else, to explore the uncharted territory before them, but it seemed that the roles had been reversed—it was her fellow creatures of nature that were now taking the initiative to eagerly move forward, to lead her to parts unknown, at least to her.
Chiko wished that these particular "unknowns" would've stayed as such for the rest of her life.
(She almost wanted the dove that gave them the message to come to never have found them, or possibly gotten eaten along the way, but she knew that this was a too-cruel thought for a messenger of the White Stag itself, so it was a dark musing that she tried to drop as quickly as she could.)
Soon enough—too soon, for her liking—Chiko's too-good ears picked up on sudden, excited murmurs from the pack ahead of her, which made her instantly notice that the unconscious pull that she felt in her mind and heart, the one that she had grown accustomed to all her life, was becoming even stronger with every stiff step her paws took. She had already been high-strung enough to pounce at the crack of a twig during the day's journey, but the increased draw towards her homeland made her pin her ears down in fear, for her long tail to grow tense.
Chiko couldn't recall any moment, outside of a hunt, that required so much of her self-control: Chiko, one of the few Snow Leopards in existence, wanted nothing more than to sprint in the opposite direction, to get away from her horrifying birthplace, a land that had been ravaged by a great war and had Demons running amok, that had become so terrifying that it had forced her and her group of fellow Nættir to leave its borders for over thirty-four years. Being a coward was the last thing she wanted to call herself, but she couldn't see any real good reason to want to come back to that very place.
But the White Stag had called them—it needed them all back home. Not even Chiko could deny the calling of The Spirt of All Forests. However, that was the only reason why she didn't listen to her instincts and leave everyone behind, and it didn't help her to sympathize with the apparent glee that everyone else was feeling towards the whole situation—while she knew for a fact that there was some apprehension in all of them about returning to the homeland, their overall joy over traveling back left her almost feeling alienated from them all.
"We've made it!"
Chiko was dragging her paws in the grass when she herself made it into the forest, the shocking, then heart-dropping, moment of the pull lifting from her telling her that she successfully crossed the border into Milvallen.
Ten miles north from Swampveil
This was it—Swampveil.
Vesper Noir had never seen an actual town before, especially one as large as this one. Even from the distant clearing in the forest that she was standing in, her sharp eyes could clearly see the large amounts of lights that made the treetops below her glow. The rain that she had noticed while moving south was starting to make more of a presence, but her ears were able to pick up the faint voices of humans coming from the town.
With a slow breath, Vesper put the hood of her black cloak over her head and focused on putting one foot in front of the other, steeling herself for her upcoming entrance into human civilization.
The walk, although it got muddy as she entered the more marshy area of the forest, went by faster than expected, to where her blue eyes blinked in slight surprise when she found herself right in front of the entrance to Swampveil. While she knew that her knowledge of the human species was limited at best, she wasn't expecting to see such a formidable-looking stone wall before her.
"Well, no going back now," Vesper whispered to herself, almost nervously—the rain almost drowning her voice out—before forcing herself to continue towards the town gates.
The object travelling down the road towards Swampveil looked at first like some sort of Wagon being pulled by two horses. But as you kept looking, you would see that it had a small stubby chimney and parts of it were made of metal, although this was mostly covered by the standard cloth covering. There was a door at the back but this seemed to be locked. The woman sitting in the drivers seat at the front looked fairly muscular, with black hair and features that were not unpleasing. The front covering of the wagon flapped open, but little light seemed to get though.
A noise came from within, a grumbling metallic sound, that sounded like a question.
"No," Widia Weyland said. "But we're close I think."
The grumble again.
"I have no idea. This is where we have to go." She looked up as the first spots of rain started to splatter around her. "Oh great." She reached up and pulled the canopy a little further over her head.
The wagon turned a corner and rattled on. Soon it came to a the head of a long slope down. Ahead in the distance, the lights and buildings were visible through the rain.
"Well," Widia regarded the sight. "There it is."
There was a pause and the metallic head of a large dog poked its way out of the darkness of the interior. Dark red eyes stared at the town before them. It let out
an extended "Ruuuuff"
"We are in a swamp," Widia responded. "What did you expect?" She shifted in the seat. "Bigger than I thought it would be though." She snapped the reins. "Lets go boys!"
The horses started up again and the wagon and its occupants moved down to the gates to the waiting town.
The sound of foreign creaking and muddy trotting from behind gave Vesper instant pause.
Turning around, she spotted the vague silhouette of a horse-drawn carriage down the main road, but that didn't make enough sense for her—Vesper actively avoided humans most of the time, but from what she knew, most carriages didn't have what appeared to be a chimney poking out of the top.
Despite the rain now beginning to grow heavier, Vesper pulled off her hood, thinking that having it on was doing things to her vision. As the wagon got closer, though, she knew that her mind wasn't playing tricks on her—there was, indeed, a chimney on a wagon.
But chimneys weren't supposed to be on wagons. Chimneys on the roofs of little village houses, yes, but a wagon? Why? The wagon seemed to be made of wood, and wood burned with fire. Maybe there was some stone or metal that kept it from burning to a crisp—and on a cursory glance of the wagon, it did seem to be build with some medal—but that still begged the question of why there was a need for a chimney for a wagon.
Unless it wasn't actually a wagon. Chimneys came with houses, right? So maybe it wasn't a wagon—maybe it was a house on wheels!
Vesper eyes grew wide with the near-incredulous idea. She's seen numerous creatures travel around in her territory in the north, but never before had she seen any that carried a little, moveable house until now. Humans, at the very least, from her experience, always kept their homes in one place, but never took it with them on journeys.
She kept mulling over the concept of a mobile home with much bafflement—not for a second recalling that she was still standing right in the middle of the road to Swampveil's entrance.
"It's like watching a disaster unfold in slow motion." Gray commented, as she took strides in the muddy road. So that was it. The last bastion against Keva. If Swampveil was conquered, effectively, the world would be in the tyrant's hands.
And that'd complicate things. Not that they weren't complicated already. Unlike many of her brethen, she had not followed the lure of wantom destruction wildly. She wondered about when demons would have naught to conquer. They'd turn to theirselves, or worse, Keva would find a way to dispose of them.
Therefore a balance of light and dark was not in the interest of the White Stag and their lot. It was in the interest of everyone. But few saw it that way. And with the gods gone...
Gray coughed, phlegm building up in her throat, giving an unsightly display. Her wretched body reeled from all the humidity and mud in the swamp. But at the same time, the power it represented could be very well a clue to the resurrection of the gods.
Her thoughts stopped upon the sight of several others. So, heroes heard the call, eh? The more the merrier, that was what their said.
"Your first time seeing a cyber arts user, dearie?" She croaked, half chuckling, to a flabbergasted girl standing in the middle of the road. "Won't be the last, I assure." She added, patting Vesper in the back.
Vesper made a sharp gasp, a sudden touch on her back making every nerve bristle with panic. She swiftly jumping a step back and turning to face a possible attacker, with teeth barred, stiff hand brought higher, dark blue eyes flashing ice blue—
Except that there wasn't an attacker before her. Instead, what Vesper found in front of her was an old, short woman, with a tooth sticking out from her mouth and some bandages on her arms.
She immediately blinked, making her eyes instantly turn back to the darker blue again, and with a breath of relief, she made herself stand ramrod straight, with her hands folded in front of her. It was a gesture that she had seen performed by children and a few women when addressing their elders, and hoped that it appeared human enough to pass.
"Um, ah, I-I apologize for that," Vesper responded, feeling her face heat up from stumbling over her words. "I hope I didn't hurt you…"
It was surprising, yet not, to see how much of her nervousness was genuine, but in the back of Vesper's mind, she was mostly hoping that she hadn't completely blown her cover before even stepping into town.
edited 13th Feb '13 1:24:35 AM by NaomiHansen
Widia frowned. There were two people standing in the road ahead, one of whom seemed to be dumbfounded at the sight of her. Fenris had retreated back inside again, but he let out a low growl as she jerked on the reins to bring the horses to a halt in front of the two... women.
"Shush." She murmured. "Hello there!" She called. "Is everything OK?."
Vesper turned her head towards the new voice—and moved a few wet strands of black hair from her face—to find the driver of the house-wagon, a black-haired, fairly muscled woman.
Despite the cool rain, her face grew even hotter when she realized that the woman had stopped because she was standing smack-dab in the middle of the muddy road.
"Ah, yes," she stammered out, "everything's fine here. I-I'm sorry I'm in the way."
With that, Vesper moved quickly to the side, near where the old lady was still standing, too embarrassed to pull her gaze back to either of them.
So far, it appeared that her attempt to integrate herself into the world was becoming nothing short of a disaster.
Widia shook her head, giving the other, very wet, woman a smile. "That's OK," She said. These two looked to be out on the road in the rain, and she was at least partially undercover. And there was room on the seat beside her...
"Would the both of you like a lift?" She asked. "Get out of the rain for a while?"
As the rain fell on the streets of Swampveil, Katerina put her hands above her head, trying to block it. Wings and fire did not mix well with wetness and damp.
She ran down the street, before running into a tavern, the same one Tarkus was in. In the corner was a large staircase going down, which most likely led to a cellar where The Paladin could hide.
She approached the counter and placed a small sack of coins on it. Her head just peaked over the rim, even when she stood on her tip-toes, and she looked quite an amusing sight to anyone who happened to notice her.
"Excuse me, sir, I'd like to rent out a part of your cellar, if you don't mind."
With a bag tied to the end of her spear, her bow slung over her shoulder and her "knife" tides to her belt Lesnaya walked down the road. She had been searching for a town called Swampwell, unfourtunately she couldnt read so the signs where of no help. Yet, she was in a good mood, the forests here were healthy and living.
When she saw a group of people gathering outside some walls she approached them. "Excuse me, is this Swampwell?"
Vesper was started for the umpteenth time that day by the sound of another voice, and another female one, at that. Sure enough, there was yet another woman who had appeared, with black hair wrapped in some cloth. Her purple clothing and orange markings on her face and legs were intriguing, but what interested Vesper more was her assortments of equipment that she was carrying—she recognized what appeared to be a sword attached to her belt, and a bow and arrow set around her shoulder, but was a little mystified by the large stick that she was carrying with her that had a bag and sharp, almost arrow-like point at one end.
edited 13th Feb '13 11:27:01 AM by NaomiHansen
"How kind of you, the rain is making my bones ache." said Gray, as she struggled to get up. She wisely decided not to pry what the hell had been the inhuman expression from before. She might be undercover as human, whatever she was, just like her. She only casually remarked.
"First time seeing mechanic contraptions, young lady? They aren't as dangerous as people crack them up to be, as long as the handler is reasonable enough." Gray added.
And then, another figure came. It seemed like the final rag tag bunch of misfits gathering before the epic journey. It didn't faze Gray. After all, such a thing was expected.
"Why yes, this be Swampwell. And about time, seems so. Looks like the kind you'd want to warm up at a fireplace and dry your clothes, lady!"
edited 13th Feb '13 11:31:06 AM by AtomicNut
"Ah Agnus." a knight called out. "I know I say I'll wonder to anyplace that needs a hand, but why a swamp? The knight, clad in steely plate armor and a black surcoat, whispered jokingly toward his steed as they trotted their way down the road. The horse, like the knight, was of a stockier, weightier build. It could outrun most things, like most horses, but just not as well, and the mound found itself just over hoof deep in the soft dirt of Swampveil.
Sir Geoff just cut through the tree-line heading into town when he saw the group blocking the road. "Heil" he called out, "Do any of you know where to find a stable around here? I think I'd like to get down for a while.....maybe a week."
The statement made by the old lady made Vesper turn back to the mobile home, where she found her sitting at the front seat. She climbed up after being offered a ride, so Vesper assumed that the woman meant it with her offer, so with one last nervous glance up, she joined them on the front seat.
No sooner had Vesper taken a seat, though, did she hear more muddy trotting coming from behind. She leaned sideways from her seat to take a look behind the wagon as best she could, and caught sight of two men with armor. Knight armor.
Now that put Vesper on edge.
"S-sorry, I don't," she forced herself to answer in regard to their question about stables. It was difficult to keep her face somewhat impassive, not apprehensive.
"I-it is all I know, I swear on my ancestors!"
Uisce turned away from the jabbering information broker. He had been in Swampveil for over a week. A week, and still no closer to finding answers. Dropping a coin on the mans table, he left the house into the rain.
He set off at a steady pace thinking old thoughts. Perhaps the rumours were wrong? Perhaps... perhaps not. Why would Keva place such a bounty on this place? Swampveil, by and large mainly kept to itself, even if there were still laws here, surely that could not bother him this much. No, no it was something else, it had to be!
As he arrived at the the town gates, a group of travellers snapped him from his reverie. Now this, he thought to himself, might lead to answers. He sensed something at play, something he had not sensed since he was known as The Flowing. Fate.
"Greetings friends, sorry for intruding but perhaps you're in need of some assistance?"
edited 13th Feb '13 1:58:25 PM by ShadowKaiser
Great, more people. So much for being covert—Vesper had ended up attracting a bit of a crowd, and it wasn't helping her newfound nervousness in the slightest.
But wait. The new, definitely male, voice had asked if they needed help. It was probably already too late to get into Swampveil undetected, so she might as well ask him to help with her own mission. How else could the whole situation get worse for her?
"Actually, you might," Vesper answered, turning back to find a man in brown robes before the horses. "Do you know of any Sorcerers in the town? Any that are willing to take an apprentice..?"
Uisce regarded the girl that spoke. A magic user? Interesting.
There was something about her that nagged at him, something familiar.
"I'm sorry child, the only thing that you will find here are members of the White Stag. Yet I could still help you, I have passing knowledge of sorcery, mayhap enough until you find someone from The Mystic Hand"
It was a lie, if a small one. Uisce could teach her divine magic if he himself could not touch it himself anymore, but the magic he wielded now was a brand far more cruel than he had first thought possible.
The rest of the journey down to the town gates was uneventful and they soon arrived at the main gates, where there seemed to be a bit of a crowd trying to get in. In fact it seemed like everyone was trying to get in. Apart from the two women she'd given a lift to, there were two Knights and another woman, who was making something in the back of her head tingle. She didn't know what it meant, only that it was familiar somehow.
They finally got into the town proper and Widia took a moment to look around to see if she could see any indication as to where the other smiths and artisans might be.
"All right ladies, here is where we part company," She said with a smile. "Good luck to you both."
When the man in the brown robe offered his assistance, she waited till the young woman she had given a lift to had finished talking to him.
"Yes," She said. "Do you know where the smiths and the other artisans are located? Might as well see if there's any room for one more."
edited 13th Feb '13 3:37:22 PM by JasonC
Uisce looked at the woman who spoke next. A blacksmith of some sort apparently, yet there was something more to her. A feeling that she was not like the others. He gazed at the monstrosity that she traveled in... a Cyber Arts user? Feeling uneasy he answered her..
"Excuse me my dear if I seem uneasy, I have never seen a cart such as yours. I know many such locations, if you would like me to escort you?"
The man seemed to be slightly disturbed something; from the glance he gave her wagon, she guessed it was herself or the wagon. Well, many people didn't like the idea of the Cyber Arts. It was one reason why she stuck to ordinary smithing.
Widia shook her head with a smile. She didn't want to make him more uncomfortable by asking him to go with her. "No, that's fine. Just point me in the right direction, I can take it from there."
Passing knowledge? Of Sorcery. Vesper's eyes widened minutely at the response, feeling her heart being to soar. This man said that he knew some Sorcery. Sure, maybe she could only get some basics out of him, but her sorcery was abysmal—she'd be willing to take almost any help that she could get while in Swampveil.
Vesper was hopeful, but a part of her mind, a part which had mingled with her embarrassment at her poor social instincts, was now screaming at her to get out—You've already had way too much attention drawn to you! If you keep this up, they're going to find out what you really are. Do you want to risk your life just to learn how to play with magic?!
Her hands squeezed tightly around each other, the only sign of her battle to quash the voice of the paranoid prey in her. It did her good on the few times that she went to small villages, where the people were already prone to suspicion towards travelers. But this was a full-blown town, and she didn't travel all this way just to flee now. Sure, she had a good number of missteps before even officially getting inside, but the ever insatiable desire to know more, to actually learn how to do magic properly, burned stronger now than it had ever been before, and a simple trip to another nearby village wouldn't have cut it this time.
Vesper needed a proper teacher of Sorcery. In fact, that didn't feel like an exaggeration in the slightest—it was as if it really was vital that she'd learn as much as she could now.
But wait. What was that the man said before? Something about "members of the White Stag," wasn't it? The White Stag? He didn't mean…
"The Nættir really are here?" said Vesper, although mostly to herself. She had caught rumors that had vaguely mentioned the White Stag's involvement with Swampveil's apparently purity, but to hear that they were possibly true…
Feeling half relieved and half dissapointed, Uisce smiled back at the woman. Loathe to admit it, but she did look able to take care of herself, even if she meddled in the power of the makers themselves. No matter, he thought, I have many spies in Swampveil, if this heretic knows anything about the Vapnir I will soon know.
"If your sure. In the middle of Swampveil, you will find a blacksmiths by the name of Hammer and Tongs. They are the best, or so I have heard"
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