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05/11/2007 5:32 AM

Welcome to the Age of Descent. Please read the OOC section before posting here. Posting in this RP section without my direct permission will not be tolerated. Enjoy.

05/14/2007 10:04 AM

[i](The Twenty-Third day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]


The approaching sound of heavy horse hooves disturbed an otherwise ghostly dirt track on the outskirts of the quiet village of Elmswhistle. Emerging from the early evening gloom on this dark day in autumn, a rider came into view upon a feisty looking large black stallion. Such a fine looking healthy steed was a rare sight in this backwater village where draft horses were an exorbitance, and donkeys or mules more commonplace.

Riding at a canter, the stallion kicked up the fallen rusty leaves as it passed out from where the skeletal bare trees encroached the track, and out into the open fields.

Veering his steed to the left and off from the main track, the rider dug his heels in and began to gallop towards a small cluster of wooden farm buildings. With the wind billowing through his cloak he passed the buildings and charged into an open field where a lonely figure was leading two cows pulling a plow.

"Barclay," bellowed Tarquin Daggervale dismounting the stallion before it had even came to a halt.

Tarquin was a large healthy looking man in his mid thirties. His dark wavy hair had wisps of gray and his stern yet handsome face was now beginning to show the first signs aging. He was a man who had probably reached the final days of his prime, and was now beginning the long downward road to being middle aged.

Tarquin quickly approached the farmer with a grim expression and clasped him firmly on the arm. "Barclay my old friend, how are?" he said bursting into laughter and giving the man a friendly slap on the back while shaking his hand. "It seems our reunions are becoming less and less frequent with age! This will not do."

[Edited by Flark on Monday, May 14, 2007 1:08 PM]

05/14/2007 10:50 AM

Following the same path he took at least twice a day, Rhys Daggervale made the long trek from Elmswhistle to the riverbank on foot. He could have easily chosen to take one of his father's ponies, but instead the young man always preferred make the journey on foot. There was so much more you could see with your feet on the ground. Today he was occasionally stopping to watch squirrels foraging for nuts in preparation for the long coming winter.

At seventeen years of age, Rhys still had a very boyish charm about him. He took great pleasure in wasting the day away trying to catch glimpses of rare animals such as fox or badger. Women in the village were still wary of him pulling a frog out his pocket and to this day still gave him a wide berth.

It was early evening by the time Rhys arrived at the riverbank. Most of the fishermen had already tied up their boats and would be on their way home by now.

Rhys wandered along the bank until he came upon what he knew to be old-man-Sinnot's boat. As he'd expected the boat had been pulled up out from the water and a muscular looking dark-haired man was hard at work inside it.

"Darith Galahan?" questioned Rhys, "How are you getting on with repairing Mr Sinnot's boat?" he asked. "I'm just here to pass on a message on from my brother, Jessop Daggervale... He says to take your time with the boat repairs. The takings have gone up tenfold at the Black Pig because Mr Sinnot hasn't moved from his bar stool since his boat sprang a leak."

Rhys paused for a moment to gauge Darith's reaction before bursting into laughter. "I'm only pulling your leg sir. No, really my brother has asked if you could meet him at the Cloak and Dagger tonight. He has a business proposition he would like to offer you. Even if you are uninterested it would be worth your while going since he always offers free ale while discussing business."

[Edited by Flark on Monday, May 14, 2007 12:51 PM]

05/14/2007 11:41 AM

The main street in Elmswhistle was typically quiet.

Due to the village being much larger several decades ago, before the mass exodus of people leaving for Wexdale and Dennison, most of the homes were spread far and wide these days. Large sections of unused and overgrown land lay dotted here and there, where now long forgotten families had once lived long ago.

Wearing an extravagantly smart surcoat embroidered with the Daggervale blue and green coat of arms, Jessop Daggervale strode solemnly along with his head down.

At twenty-eight years of age, the handsome second-son of the most rich and influential family in the history of Elmswhitle's was the yearning of most young woman in the village. Tall and dark with an athletic build, and a thoroughly nice man to boot, Jessop had everything going for him. Yet here he was trudging through a deserted street looking like all of the troubles of the world weighed upon his shoulders. Dark rings had formed around his eyes from a lack of sleep, telltale signs of his current troublesome state of mind.

Eventually Jessop arrived at his destination, a large but quiet looking wooden house with a small blacksmith's work store attached onto the front of it. Hesitating for a moment as if unsure of his words or actions, Jessop stared at the door blankly before finally plucking up the sense to knock upon it.

The door was that to the home of Atherol, and his daughter Aida Trevalyan.

[Edited by Flark on Monday, May 14, 2007 12:57 PM]

05/14/2007 12:43 PM

The Cloak and Dagger has been all but dead for the majority of the day. Through sheer boredom Carson the barman must have dusted every mug in the inn a thousand times over. On numerous occasions Carson swore that if anyone came in and complained about a dirty mug he was personally going to repair the gallows just for them.

The old barman figured that Eolande must have been as bored as he was, so set her off to work re-cleaning the already immaculate bedrooms on the upper floor of the inn. Every now and then Carson wandered up stairs to check on her. Not that he didn't trust that she would be working, he just liked to make sure she didn't need a helping hand with anything - or so he said.

It wasn't until Laura Daggervale unexpectedly turned up in the early evening that the poor young barmaid was finally given a minute's grace. Laura looked as beautiful and elegant as always. Her long black hair hung loosely, almost touching her slim waistline. Her skin was pale, almost snow white, yet her eyes were dark and sparkled with life. In a village where most of the people wandered around in rags, Laura Daggervale look almost princess like in her long flowing blue dress.


"Carson, I insist - take the night off [i]please[/i]. Your poor wife must forget that she ever had a husband." pleaded Laura.

"...But...But.. Does Jessop know about this?" stuttered Carson.

"Yes he does. It's fine." she assured.

"Well...Well... Oh, alright then!... Just make sure you send word if it gets busy. I've left a spare barrel of-"

"Yes Carson, we know. It'll be fine."

"No but.."

"Yes Carson, it's fine. Goodbye."

With a grunt the stubby old fellow grabbed his cloak and stormed outside slamming the door shut firmly behind him. The two women couldn't help but giggle.

"Oh thank heavens for that! You poor soul," said Laura giving her best friend a hug. "I really don't know how you manage to put up with him for such long hours? No wonder poor old Ella had to retire. I really though I was doing you a favor in making you take this job. Please forgive me." she chuckled. "Anyway, I wish I could say my only reason for the surprise visit was to save you from Carson, but Jessop has informed me Tarquin is holding a meeting here tonight. He didn't want nosey old Carson sticking his ore in where it isn't wanted, so he's asked if we could prepare a few things for him this evening."


*******(That's all folks. Let the show begin!)*******

05/14/2007 1:41 PM


Aida answered the door, hair loose about her shoulders, dress worn but well mended, her customary warm smile large and welcoming.
It faltered momentarily as Jessop shifted slightly on the stoop, the light spilling from the door revealing his expression.

Of all the three Daggervale sons the weight of their station had always seemed to weigh most heavily on Jessop.
Tarquin wore their status- much reduced though it may be- like a mantle, and proudly; and Rhys, well, a man grown but ever a boy, that one.
But Jessop, he was the one who truly understood the role of a squire, the care and charge that it involved- even if few squires ever had to turn publican.

The kitchen was visible from the door, drying bundles of fragrant herbs hanging from the rafters, and Atherol seated by the small fire.
The nights had already started to chill, but the abundance of dry deadwood permitted the small luxury.

She stepped back, concern newly etched across her face.
"Will you come in, sir?

05/14/2007 2:55 PM

[Posted By nanuk]
She stepped back, concern newly etched across her face.
"Will you come in, sir?

Jessop couldn't help but smile on setting eyes upon the lovely Aida. He'd always had a soft spot for the young woman who's family history had been forever intertwined with that of his own.

"Aida my dear, I hope you are well," he said, accepting the invitation and stepping inside. He wanted to embrace the girl in a friendly hug but immediately thought better of himself, if not a little awkward. "And how is my champion Atherol? As strong and vibrant as ever I see," grinned Jessop, turning his attention towards the old man with genuine affection.

As a boy, Jessop remembered his fathers constant praises upon Atherol being the finest blacksmith in Denzibar. "Give him a month and he could rearm the entire Denzabian Army!" he could recall him saying. Regardless of whether or not this was true, the fact remained that he had always managed to single-handedly cater for the smithing needs of the entire village. Over the years Jessop had witnessed the old man's gradual physical decline match that of the village. It was probable there would never be need for another Blacksmith in Elmswhistle after Atherol's days had passed?

Once the pleasantries were over with, Jessop got around to the reason of his visit. The Daggervales and the Trevalyan were the oldest of friends, but their friendship was so far solely based upon both business and a mutual respect for one another.

"I'm afraid the reason for my visit is the need to whisk your daughter away on some important business of ours," he informed the old man with a wry smile, "Don't worry, as always we'll take very good care of her and see that she comes to no harm." Although Jessop seemed to be speaking in jest, his weary eyes revealed a deep sincerity and strong resolve.

Turning to Aida now he spoke more seriously, "Aida, Tarquin has asked if you would be so kind as to accompany me to the Cloak and Dagger this evening? He is holding a meeting there, something to do with a business trip he has planned. He would like to ask upon your expert knowledge of alchemy and herbal remedies. I know it all sounds a little strange but I'm sure he will give you all the details, you know Tarquin..."

05/15/2007 7:28 AM

Darith had been working on the boat all day, and despite most of the fisherman's jests he had practically finished it already. Darith was shirtless, and sweat poured down his muscular back, and he wiped his brow putting down his tools stepping out to speak with the man he knew as Rhys Daggervale. "Aye..Boat just needs a few more tweaks before Im done with her." Darith cracked his neck almost pausing at what he had said about the cloak and dagger.

Darith spoke in his gruff tone. "Well I will be more than happy to oblige your brother.. Im not the kind of man to pass up free ale, or work.." He lifted a water skin to his lips and drank deeply of it. He began gathering his tools, and wiped his brow. " As Darith began walking away he called back to Rhys Daggervale. "Let old-man-Sinnot know he can come get his boat tomorrow." Darith had a grin on his lips as he continued walking away.

Another job well done in his eyes. He traversed the path back up to the village and entered his small cabin. He put his things away, and sniffed himself.."Whoa.." He smelled horrid. He grabbed a cloth from his things, and made his way back down to the water. He began bathing. More like swimming as Darith had a tendency to always want to keep moving.

05/15/2007 9:02 AM

"Don't bother with your nice greetings, Tarquin," grunted Barclay, wiping his brow and turning back to his work as he continued. "What's so urgent that you had to rush out here on that black beast and scare my cows?"

Before Tarquin could explain, a voice called out from behind them. "Mister Daggervale!" Tarquin turned to see Barclay's young daughter Blossom running out from the farmhouse. She was as energetic as ever, and waved in greeting as she ran. She was followed at a more casual pace by her older sister Bell, who was wearing an apron stained with water and broth from cooking. "What a surprise to see you out here!" said Blossom. "It's been a while since your last visit. Surely you'll join us for supper?"

[Edited by CodPor on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 5:14 PM]

05/15/2007 9:59 AM

I know it all sounds a little strange but I'm sure he will give you all the details, you know Tarquin..."

Aida nodded.
Taciturn was not a word that could be applied to Tarquin Daggervale.

Her smile had returned as Jessop had bantered with her father. Atherol had great time for the man, seeing in him a work ethic similar to his own, and Aida appreciated the respect the middle Daggervale son always afforded him.

Taking up a red woolen shawl she spoke to her father.

"I have some willow bark on the boil, Da." She glanced at the fire. "By the time the kindling burns down it should be ready. If I'm not back by then could you take it over to Ella? She's had a few of her headaches this past week so I promised her some."

Giving him a quick kiss on the cheek she swept the shawl around her shoulders and motioned for Jessop to lead on out the door, touching her hand briefly to a horseshoe that hung above the lintel before passing under it.

She'd been out gathering late-season herbs all day, since shortly after dawn, and the scent of lavender and clove flowers still clung to the shawl. She gathered it around herself more tightly against the chill, tucking the ends under her folded arms.

They walked in companionable silence for a few moments, her soft boots making little noise on the dusty path, Jessop's steps a little heavier.

"So, my 'expert knowledge' is needed?" She smiled again as she broke the silence, pleased at the compliment, although not convinced of its truth.
"What about Doctor Fell? Will he not be attending?"
The doctor might be aging but his mind was still sharp, so she could not think why Tarquin would ask for her

05/15/2007 5:49 PM

"Oh thank heavens for that! You poor soul," said Laura giving her best friend a hug. "I really don't know how you manage to put up with him for such long hours? No wonder poor old Ella had to retire. I really though I was doing you a favor in making you take this job. Please forgive me." she chuckled. "Anyway, I wish I could say my only reason for the surprise visit was to save you from Carson, but Jessop has informed me Tarquin is holding a meeting here tonight. He didn't want nosey old Carson sticking his ore in where it isn't wanted, so he's asked if we could prepare a few things for him this evening."

She had just finished when her friend entered the room. Eolande smiled, and tucked her cleaning rag back into her apron. She wore a simple faded green dress, covered by an apron that showed signs of use, but obvious care. "I don't mind at all." she said softly, not commenting on the insinuation that Carson was a busy body. She might have in the past, but such things didn't merit her attention anymore. "I assume they'll be wantin' ale, meat and bread? I've got some roasting in the kitchen. It should be all set and ready by the time they arrive."

She wasn't the type to brag any longer, and there wasn't a shred of anything but humility in her tone as she finished her thought. "In fact, it should be just perfect." Her thoughts strayed to Jessop for just a moment, his face appearing in her mind's eye. Such a handsome man. Kind too. With a sad smile, she knew she wouldn't have been able to get by without him.

Turning to her friend, she smiled. "Well, I suppose we should be gettin' ready then. I'll shoo away the remnants, and get everything ready. How many?" Her soft violet eyes twinkled slightly in the candlelight and she headed towards the door. It wouldn't take her long to get ready, as most everyone had already begun to head home to families and wives.

05/15/2007 6:14 PM

[Posted By CodPor]
Barclay;"What's so urgent that you had to rush out here on that black beast and scare my cows?"

Blossom;"It's been a while since your last visit. Surely you'll join us for supper?"

"Alas, I'm afraid I cannot," Tarquin replied sorrowfully to the young girl who had ran to hug him about the waist. "In fact I'm here to ask your father if he would be so kind as to join me at the Cloak and Dagger this evening?"

Tarquin turned to his old friend, and for just a brief second his playful smile was replaced by a look of intense seriousness. The look was a dead giveaway, but Barclay had known him long enough to sense something out of the ordinary must be going on. It was very out of character for him to turn up so unexpectedly at this time of the evening in an attempt to drag him away from his family.

"Sorry to call so late and all, Barclay, but you know how these business opportunities have habit of springing up when you least expect them. As my oldest friend, and a well respected farmer of the village I'm in need of your advice on some land issues we will be discussing this evening." and with a touch of inherent diplomatic tactfulness he added, "You didn't have anything special planned for tonight, did you?" knowing full well the humble farmer would not.

05/15/2007 6:43 PM

[Posted By CandlestickJay]
"I assume they'll be wantin' ale, meat and bread? I've got some roasting in the kitchen. It should be all set and ready by the time they arrive." "In fact, it should be just perfect."

"Well, I suppose we should be gettin' ready then. I'll shoo away the remnants, and get everything ready. How many?"

Laura nodded to the suggestion of food and ale. She knew Tarquin especially appreciated the indulgence of a good meal.

"You know I'm not rightly sure how many will be turning up? she said looking puzzled, "No more than eight, of that I'm certain."

At that Laura followed her friend into the kitchen, determined not to be thwarted in the act of helping out. It was quite rare for Laura to get the chance of helping to prepare a meal, and for that reason she wanted to make the most of the opportunity of working alongside the Eolande.

05/15/2007 6:56 PM

"You know I'm not rightly sure how many will be turning up? she said looking puzzled, "No more than eight, of that I'm certain."

She nodded. "We'll prepare for ten, just in case."

Eolande had grown to love her work at the small inn and tavern. Though business wasn't always booming, she had found a home here, away from the memories and places that haunted her. She enjoyed the work, the cleaning, the cooking, the serving...it all made her feel as if she was actually doing something worthwhile. Testing the meat and adding salt and pepper where she felt it was needed, Eolande allowed Laura to be of some service as they made small talk about life in general. After so short of time, Eolande had managed to become quite proficient as a waitress and a kitchen maid, following Carson's instructions to the letter and learning quickly.

"If you'd like, set these out at the table on the far right." Eolande instructed gently, gesturing to Laura to plates and mugs ready to be placed.

05/16/2007 5:07 AM

[Posted By nanuk]
"So, my 'expert knowledge' is needed?" She smiled again as she broke the silence, pleased at the compliment, although not convinced of its truth.

"What about Doctor Fell? Will he not be attending?"

Although the darkening street was empty, Jessop responded in a hushed tone as not to be overheard.

"I didn't want to concern your father if nothing is to come of this, but I believe Tarquin has the intention of bringing you on the trip I mentioned. I fear Doctor Fell's days of travel and adventure are long since behind him. His duty is best served here where so many of the village elders, including my father, are dependent on his care."

Turning his head to look at her while they walk, he whispered, "I feel I should warn you Aida, this trip could be perilous, but my brother wouldn't ask this of you if it were not absolutely necessary."

With those words ringing ominous, the sturdy looking inn called the Cloak and Dagger came into view. Although fairly basic by the standards of the inns in Dennison of Wexdale, the Cloak and Dagger was one of the finest looking buildings in Elmswhistle. It had been built by Sebastian's father in the heights of the Daggervale's prosperity. The outer structure of the two story building had been constructed to the highest quality with the finest local timbers. The interior was decoratively quite plain, but still to this day it always remained immaculately clean and tidy, nowadays thanks to the meticulous barman Carson.

The Cloak and Dagger was a stark contrast to Elmswhitle's only other inn, the small and dingy Black Pig, which was situated on the opposite side of the village. The Black Pig was the haunt of the local fisherman who gathered there in every dwindling numbers each evening. It's original landlord had cut his losses and fled for the fresh pastures of Wexdale long ago when profits first began to dwindle. To the outrage of the fisherman the Black Pig remained abandoned for a time until Sebastian Daggervale finally caved in to footing the costs of it's day to day running. In actual fact the Black Big still manages to turnover a very small profit in comparison to the Cloak and Dagger which runs at an ever increasing loss.

[Edited by Flark on Wednesday, May 16, 2007 5:10 AM]

05/16/2007 3:11 PM

Eolande turned her head towards the door, the sharp sounds of footsteps echoing through the now empty bar. [i] Time to begin. [/i] she thought evenly, heading towards the door. Gracefully she pushed the door open to welcome the visitors. To her surprise, it was Jessop, and the apprentice healer Aida. Firmly pushing any thoughts that may have risen towards seeing his face, she smiled as Laura greeted her brother.

"It is nice to see you both." she inclined her head slightly as she gestured them in welcomingly, and then shooed them both towards the long table set and ready for their usage. "Please, take a seat. Laura, thank you for all of your help. You as well, please, sit I can handle it from here."

Walking to stand next to the table they were to sit at, she paused at the end seat next to Jessop's place. "Everything is ready for your...meeting," Eolande said patiently, soft violet eyes sparkling in the candlelight. The dim lighting only added to the home-town charm that the Cloak and Dagger was famous for. She looked from Aida to Jessop then back again, the slightest twinge of curiosity flickering through her body. "Can I get you anything? Ale, for both, or water?"

Rubbing her hands clean on her apron and tucking a wispy strand of auburn hair behind one ear, she waited for their orders, taking a quick glance around to make sure the rest of the inn was in last minute clean and pristine condition.

05/18/2007 9:06 AM

"In fact I'm here to ask your father if he would be so kind as to join me at the Cloak and Dagger this evening?"

"You didn't have anything special planned for tonight, did you?"

"No, I don't," Barclay replied, still focusing on his work rather than turning to speak face to face. "I'll come after I've finished the day's plowing."

Blossom ran to her father and stood in front of him with her hands on her hips. "Daaaad," she said in a mock scolding tone. "You don't have to worry about that. Me and Bell can handle it."

"Yeah," chimed Bell. "We've helped with plowing and putting the cows away before."

"It'll be no problem," Blossom concluded.

Barclay looked his daughter in the eye. He knew the two of them probably could do this without his help. Although he feared something would go wrong every time he turned his gaze from a task he had given them, this fear usually went unrealized. Regardless of his own doubts, he could see in Blossom's face that she was confident in her and her sister's ability. He looked away as he replied: "All right. I'll let you two finish this up." He stepped away and his daughters immediately took over, attending to the cows and the plow. "But keep an eye on each other," he added. "Make sure you're both working the way I taught you."


Barclay turned around uncertainly, and willed himself to walk away. After a few steps, he turned to Tarquin and asked: "So, what is this business that you need me for?"

05/18/2007 11:43 AM

[Posted By CodPor]
"So, what is this business that you need me for?"

Once out of earshot of the two girls, Tarquin resumed a more serious expression and prepared to explain something which so far had been kept between himself and Jessop. His father Sebastian, had been in no fit condition to understand the true implications of the matter, so the two brothers had been left with little choice but to reassure the old man that they had the matter firmly in hand.

"I'm afraid we have a major crisis on our hands, Barclay. As you well know, King Wilhelm has forever made life as difficult as he could for those of us who choose to remain in Elmswhistle. Only two days ago my father received an official note from the King. It gave notice of an increase in taxes so profound that they will have this village at it's knees in a matter of months. It's so outrageous it barely allows me the time to make the long journey to Wexdale for the prolonged appeal procedure, of which we have little hope of winning anyway. If we do not start paying straight away we will be declared outlaws by the Danzabian Army, thrown out of our homes and arrested. It seems the King has finally lost his patience with this ongoing battle of wills, and there is nothing left of the old Daggervale fortune to bail us out this time. Unless we take drastic action, I'm sorry to say it this really could spell the end for Elmswhistle."

Turning away momentarily to reach for the reins of the magnificent black stallion, Tarquin mounted the beast with all the grace of a skilled horseman.

"Now then, if you would care to quickly bid farewell to your wife and children? We have one or two options which need to be discussed with a small company of friends who await us at the Cloak and Dagger. I think Nighvale can handle the burden of us both on such a short distance... Unless of course you have a better method of travel?" he said grinning at the two cows.

05/18/2007 6:32 PM

Darith was cloaked in green. He wore a green tunic, and brown pants. His hands were gloved in brown leather. A hunting bow was strapped across his back, and a quiver of arrows. A dagger was sheathed on a big broad leather belt that was fitted around his waist. His dark bangs hung over his eyes. He brought a gloved hand to the newly grown gotee on his chin. He felt an overwhelming sensation to just return home, but his booted feet brought him up the tavern steps, and into the door. His dark eyes surveyed the tavern a moment before finding a seat.

Darith knew something was up. Usually when someone wanted his help they just asked him, and he did the job, and they paid him his wages. This was different, and it was under the table. His father William always warned him about afairs such as these. 'You cant trust those Daggervales.' He had often told him. Darith really never understood why, but reguardless. He didnt feel any emotion towards it at all. Coin is all that mattered to the remaining Galahan in Elmswhistle.

Darith was suddenly brought back those years to that winter. His father had been killed, and there was no medicine for his sister or his Mother. Their coughing, and hacking only worstened. Darith had taken to thieving to try and provide whatever food he could for them, but he was only a kid. He remembered holding his mother tightly as she caressed his dead sister's face. 'Its too late Darith..You best be getting out of here before you come down with it too!' His mother's words still echoed throughout his head. 'No ma..'

Darith blinked, and realized he was sitting in the tavern.."Ale please.."

05/18/2007 7:59 PM

Eolande turned at the sound of another man entering the tavern. The preoccupied look, she supposed, must be due to this same strange meeting. Darith, she believed, was his name. Allowing him to find his own seat, she walked over and leaned casually next to him after a few moments. He seemed distant, and for a moment, she was curious what the handsome man was so seriously thinking about. But she didn't ask.

"Would you-"

Darith blinked, and realized he was sitting in the tavern.."Ale please.."

She nodded, smiling at him gently. "Of course sweetheart." she replied, mentally recording his order and quickly departed for the kitchen. Vaguley she tried to recall what exactly she knew about Darith. Not much really. Except that his parents had died of the same sickness her own had. That simple disease had taken more lives that winter than had died in the last decade. She sighed, filling a few tankards of ale and setting them collectively on her tray.

Glancing over at the meat cooking, she reached over and poked it with a fork, pressing and prodding with the excellence of an experienced cook. She added a pinch more salt and a little pepper. Satisfied, she let it sit once more, scooping up the tray of ale and returning to the main room.

She approached Darith first, and set his drink gently next to the empty plate. "There ye go. Anything else ye'd like?" Her face was a perfect waitress neutral, violet eyes shimmering easily in the candlelight, contrasting against the shadows across her fair skin.

05/19/2007 12:00 PM

Jessop gave a friendly nod towards Darith who joined the small group consisting of himself, Aida and Laura. They were seated at one of the largest table in the inn which Eolande had prepared for them.

Laura had specifically chosen this table at the request of Tarquin because of it's circular shape. He had hoped the round table would help to promote a relaxed and informal atmosphere in which everyone would be viewed upon as equals. Although the head-strong Tarquin had a clear plan of how he intended the evening to unfold, he did not want his guests feeling like they were being bullied into the decision he hoped to steer them into making.

"Welcome Darith Galahan, I'm glad you could join us. My brother Tarquin should be arriving shortly to explain our reason in bringing you all here this evening. Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy a few drinks. I believe Eolande is preparing a meal for us of which I'm certain will be excellent," said Jessop, nodding reassuringly towards Eolande as she set down Darith's drink.

At Jessop's side, Laura was doing her best to remain upbeat, although the frustration of being oblivious to what exactly was going was clearly getting to her. It was not always easy for the intelligent young woman to accept her imposed nonfunctional role regarding Daggervale family business issues.

"Good evening all," greeted Rhys Daggervale strolling casually into the inn and seating himself at the table. The young man looked particularly dishevelled in the company of his two older, more attractive and very smartly dressed siblings. The youngest Daggervale had always looked the odd one out with his curly auburn hair instead of the black colour shared by his older brothers and sister. As he grew older, his relaxed demeanour and care-free attitude had never changed, increasingly setting him aside from the others.

05/19/2007 5:34 PM

Darith lifted the tankard of ale to his lips and drank deeply of it before responding to Eolande. "Oh no thank you." He smiled at her briefly before turning his attention to Jessop. "Greetings." He nodded across the table at Jessop. In a few brief moments Darith had chugged the tankard of ale, and he swore lightly under his breath at himself.

He had forgotten his manners. "Pardon me.." He said casually. Once Rhys Daggervale joined them Darith nodded to him, and said in his rough scratchy tone. "Evenin."
Darith had already presented himself in his mind to be a sloppy brute, and what happened next terrified him. An enormous belch erupted from his throat, and he didnt think twice to stop it before it was too late.."Oh im terribly sorry about that.."

05/19/2007 7:05 PM

Jessop - "I believe Eolande is preparing a meal for us of which I'm certain will be excellent," said Jessop, nodding reassuringly towards Eolande as she set down Darith's drink.

"I hope you will enjoy it." Eolande responded with a small smile in return to the compliment. She sat down the other three tankards of ale, one for Rhys, one of Jessop and should Laura feel the urge, one for her. "It's Carson's specialty, that I've just happened to pick up on."

"How are you Master Rhys?" she asked, inclining her head slightly in the boy's direction. She was under orders from Laura to attempt to make small talk with everyone. She didn't really want to, but Laura had helped her so much these last few years. [i] I owe her so much...[/i] Eolande thought with a small, grateful smile to herself.

Darith - . An enormous belch erupted from his throat,.."Oh im terribly sorry about that.."

Her violet eyes widened as she scanned him carefully for a moment, then cast him a tiny smile. "I'm glad you enjoyed it." she said softly, only the tiniest trace of amusement in her eyes.

Acknowledging that they could only be missing a few more people, Eolande tucked her tray under one arm and attractively walked her way back to the kitchen to check on the meat. It would be ready in just a few minutes.

05/23/2007 8:51 AM

"Now then, if you would care to quickly bid farewell to your wife and children?"

Barclay went into his house and told his wife simply that he would be going to the Cloak and Dagger for the evening. She did not ask why, as she too had seen Tarquin's hasty arrival. Barclay was glad of it. After what he had just heard his mind and heart were racing, and he could hardly speak for all the thoughts going through his head.

How could the king do this? Elmswhistle was Barclay's home, the only place he had ever known. He couldn't leave, and certainly couldn't survive without his farm. Where would they go? What would they do?

What [i]could[/i] they do?, he wondered. Tarquin seemed to have some sort of plan, but Barclay didn't understand what it could be. Would they find some way to make the money to pay the new taxes? Would they try to make the village more valuable to the king? Why would the king want to get rid of Elmswhistle anyway? It didn't make any sense to Barclay. They already paid taxes. What negative effect did Elmswhistle have on the kingdom?

Barclay held his head with one hand and tried to gather his thoughts. It was doing him no good to think so much about it. For now, he would just try to focus on what was at hand. He was outside now, and Tarquin was waiting to depart. "Let's go," Barclay said, and he climbed onto the horse.

05/23/2007 11:39 AM

"Let's go," Barclay said, and he climbed onto the horse.

Tarquin pulled at Nightvale's reins, turning him around, and then dug in his heels sending the powerful horse charging back across the field. In just a few seconds they had cleared the open field and were galloping along the trail towards the village main. The sky had now turned black. Spindly trees surrounded them at either side, overhanging the rough trail only inches above where their heads rested high upon the huge stallion. Tarquin remained impetuous towards the perilously low branches which looked like witches hands reaching out to grab at them. He hunched forwards and spurred Nightvale onwards ever faster.

It was not long before Nightvale had slowed to a steady trot on Elmswhitle's cobbled main road. His heavy hooves echoed loudly out across the dark and empty street as they approached The Cloak and Dagger. From the outside, with the wooden shutters firmly closed, it looked like the inn was closed for the night with no one inside. The pair dismounted the horse and Barclay waited while Tarquin lead him into the dark and empty stable at the side of the inn. As soon as he returned Tarquin lead the farmer inside.

05/23/2007 1:15 PM

She heard the stallion's hooves through her kitchen window, and watched as Tarquin and another moved from the horse and headed towards the inn. Eolande peered closer at the second figure and after a moment recognised him as the pleasant Barclay, the nice family man, with two nearly grown daughters and a lovely wife. The people gathered seemed to have nothing in common, and it caused her great wonder as she pondered what on earth the Daggervales could have cooked up this time.

Changing her train of thought, she stirred the stew quickly and carefully added the now tender meat into the brew. The smells wafting from inside the pot filled the kitchen with a delicious smell, and she smiled, rather pleased with the way it turned out. A few more minutes to simmer, and it would be ready. Perhaps they would eat first before the meeting was truly underway. Delicately picking up the pepper, Eolande tipped the slightest bit more into the pot and then left it to boil.

Heading back towards the door to the main tavern, she entered the bar just as Tarquin and Barclay entered the room. Swiftly gathering a few more mugs on a tray and filling them with ale, she lifted them to shoulder level and headed towards the large round table, checking to make sure everyone was satisfied.

05/24/2007 9:28 AM

Heading back towards the door to the main tavern, she entered the bar just as Tarquin and Barclay entered the room. Swiftly gathering a few more mugs on a tray and filling them with ale, she lifted them to shoulder level and headed towards the large round table, checking to make sure everyone was satisfied.

"Good evening all," proclaimed Tarquin grandly in his inherently formal way of speaking. "It is good to see you could all make it here tonight."

He ushered Barclay to the table before finally taking a seat himself.

"Ah, thank you Eolande my dear," said Tarquin, graciously accepting one of the mugs of ale. "Indeed the food does smell most excellent tonight. My guess would be it is all but ready?... It would be criminal to let such a fine smelling meal spoil while we sit around yakking. Let us eat first and discuss business afterwards... Eolande, I do hope you will be joining us for the meal?"

Tarquin turned to gaze upon each of the guest in turn. His speech and mannerism had been warm and friendly, if not a little conceited, but now his stare was cold, hard and very serious.

Jessop, who had remained uncharacteristically quiet so far this evening, sat opposite his older brother. The facial expressions of the pair almost mirrored each other with the exception that Jessop looked slightly worried or nervous, while Tarquin appeared steely determined. Neither looked capable of entertaining their guests with idle chit chat.

"So, how is your father doing these days, Aida?" Laura asked, quickly trying to break the awkward which loomed.

Rhys seemed to be paying very little attention to anything which was going on. He was currently staring into his mug of ale, but would occasionally pick it up and take long uncomfortable looking gulps. It was apparent the young man didn't quite have the stomach for ale, but he seemed determined to try to keep up with the other men even if it killed him.

[Edited by Flark on Thursday, May 24, 2007 9:30 AM]

05/24/2007 11:59 AM

"So, how is your father doing these days, Aida?" Laura asked, quickly trying to break the awkward which loomed.

"Oh, he is well, thank you."

She smiled at Laura, who still remained a shining jewel in the faded glory of Elmswhistle: but the woman had a personality to match her beauty, and a gift for putting people at ease, so Aida, no matter how immaculate and lovely Laura's dress, never felt intimidated around her.

"He grows older, as we all do, and he is no longer as strong as he once was but, for all that ...he is well."

Her smile grew melancholy.

"He misses Lisabet, especially at this time of year, but, God forgive me, I think it is easier that she is not here. She favoured Mother, God rest her, more with each day". She blessed herself and smiled gratefully once more, thankful for Laura's interest- and the chance to break the atmosphere.

"And your father, how is he? I've been meaning to call to him- I have some good Devil's Claw to help ease the pain in his joints, I know it gets worse once Summer breaks. And I made a nice elderberry tonic- it'll help strengthen his breathing- and I infused it with some hops so he'll sleep easier. Oh, and I just powdered some burdock- sprinkled on his food it'll aid the digestion."

She paused and laughed.
"Forgive me! It's been a good season so I get enthusiastic! I'll ask Dr. Fell to help me write it all down."
A faint blush came to her cheeks, causing the paler skin of her scar to stand out, and a shy pride lit her eyes, "He's been helping me with my letters. He says despite his best efforts he won't live forever, so I'll need to be able to read his notes- and write down my recipes".

[OOC: I'll end it there, I think- that's a fair bit of dialogue considering we're all in the bar now, lol]

05/24/2007 6:27 PM

"Ah, thank you Eolande my dear," said Tarquin, graciously accepting one of the mugs of ale. "Indeed the food does smell most excellent tonight. My guess would be it is all but ready?... It would be criminal to let such a fine smelling meal spoil while we sit around yakking. Let us eat first and discuss business afterwards... Eolande, I do hope you will be joining us for the meal?"

Eolande's eyes widened in confusion for a moment, but then were replaced by a gracious and simple smile. "Of course, I'd be delighted." she replied with a small nod. He was only being polite, as he always was. "But for the moment, I'll get your food."

It took her but a moment to distribute another wary glass to Rhys, keeping a mental count of how much he had drank. Passing out the rest of the mugs, she headed towards the kitchen.

The distant and worried look on Jessop's face worried her. It was unlike him to allow matters to change his public persona - his comfortable smile had brought her many a days pleasures, even when she knew he was struggling with his own problems. It even sometimes reminded her of Alzen sometimes... she choked, biting her lip as the young child's image flashed before her eyes, even daring to appear in the reflection of the stew that broiled in the pot. [i] Oh Alzen...[/i] she thought tearfully, the clench of grief on her stomach tying painful knots inside her. Tightening her closed eyes she willed the salty tears away, taking a few deep breaths to calm herself.

She struggled to change the subject in her mind, but her son's image still appeared in her head, a smiling face, a laughing face, and then the bloated blue cheeks and red-stained eyes - Eolande bit her lip so hard it nearly bled. She yanked bowls from the cabinet and began ladling the stew into each one, filling each bowl with a ferocity and desperation that would have worried any onlooker. Catching a glimpse of her face in the window pane, she hurriedly wiped the tears she saw gathering away, and hefted the large tray onto both hands. She took a deep breath, and added a smile to the mix. The glisten of unshed tears in her violet eyes had not yet left. [i] To the matters at hand....[/i] she thought to herself sternly. [i] There will be more time for grief...[/i] With that, she backed through the swinging kitchen doors and entered back into the main room.

05/25/2007 8:42 AM

[Posted By nanuk]
"And your father, how is he?

Laura smiled at Aida's enthusiasm when talking about her medicine. Tarquin seemed to be studying her intensely, and even Jessop had shook himself from his troublesome daydream and seemed to be listening to her with genuine interest.

"I'm afraid our father is still much the same," replied Laura looking a little saddened now, "He does seems happy enough within himself. He's comfortable enough to sleep away the most of every day and night, but it is sad to see such a strong man, least of all our own father, slowly wasting away like that." Laura's words tailed away into despondence when fortunately Eolande returned to the room carrying a large tray.

05/25/2007 8:19 PM

Eolande backed through the swinging doors and into the room, a small simple and unrevealing smile decorating her fair features. Slipping easily around the table she put a bowl of delicious stew and bread at each person's place, and then quickly found her own. "Please, enjoy." she said simply, waiting for another to eat before she did.

Again she scanned the faces at the table. Yes, something was most definitely wrong. Though why she should be allowed to be privy to the information astounded her. It must be simple curtesy, she decided, violet eyes skimming from face to face before her. Finally she lit on Jessop and the troublesome look that lingered on his face. It worried her. But soon she hoped, all would be revealed.

05/26/2007 4:54 AM

* * *

The meal went by without further incident. The food which Eolande had prepared was indeed excellent, and she felt almost a little embarrassed by all of the compliments each of the guests insisted on directing at her. Even while enjoying her own food she insisted on jumping up to provide fresh mugs of ale for the men. As the ale flowed and people enjoyed their meals, the conversation loosened up considerably into the usual idle village gossip and chit chat between any loose group of friends or acquaintances.

After the meal was finished, Laura insisted on helping Eolande to clear the table before Tarquin called them both back and drew in everyone's attention.

"Friends, as you all know there is a more serious matter in my reasoning for bringing you all her tonight.. Each of you here present has been carefully chosen by myself and Jessop as people worthy of our utmost trust. From this moment, all I ask from each of you is for your honest opinions and for your discreetness in the matters we will discuss."

Tarquin paused for a moment to let the weight of his words sink in. It appeared that he was seemingly allowing for any objections, although typically his inherent diplomatic demeanor he had thus far not given them anything to object about. Therefore committing them to a sense of unwitting guilty obligation.

Tarquin held out his hand allowing Jessop to hand him a large, rolled up, very official looking scroll. Tarquin unrolled it and flattened it out on the table, then passed it around for each of the guests to study.

"It is from King Wilhelm," he explained. "Our [i]good King[/i]" he spoke the words with bitter sarcasm, "has finally decided to cripple Elmswhistle beyond redemption. Only two days ago my father received this order which, as you see, demands an increase in citizenship taxes to an impossibly preposterous rate. Through long years of the King slowly squeezing at our throats, us Daggervales have no money left to support the village. The King's unreasonable demands do not allow me the time to even [i]try[/i] to make the journey to Wexdale for a futile attempt at an appeal. If we cannot pay the tax collectors at the end of the month we will all be declared outlaws and arrested, our homes will be seized by the Army and Elmswhistle will cease to exist."

"There is little we can feasibly do to raise this money by the end of the month," added Jessop solemnly. "To do so would require almost all of the Daggervale's remaining assests, leaving us with virtually nothing for the months which follow."

"But all is not lost. Not yet," continued Tarquin with a steely determination in his voice. "The Isle of Merrywinter is less than three days travel from here. In the six days we have remaining we could easily make it there and back with time to spare."

"Merrywinter?!!" interjected Laura incredulously, "But that place is forbidden! Are you proposing we search for the fallen city of Halvault?"

"Indeed I am little sister," responded Tarquin somewhat annoyed by her outburst. "Halvault is not just a legend, it is very real I can assure you of that."

"Of that I do not doubt," argued Laura, "But it is forbidden. Cursed. You know as well as I do that the King still regularly sends down Denziban Army patrols to the coast. The punishment is death for even being spotted out on the waters between here and Merrywinter!"

"And do you not ask yourselves why!!? What does the King have to hide? Halvault was once a rich and grand city. Historically they were our neighbours until Wilhelm II got jealous and fearful of their prosperity and cut them off from the rest of the Kingdom. That is why the King wants rid of us! So he can cut back on the costs of his patrols and erase his guilty family history by finally removing everyone from the south-west once and for all!" Tarquin was now red in the face and almost shouting at the top of his voice at his sister's dissent.

"We do not know that for sure, Tarquin," replied Laura calmly but firm.

Jessop looked like he was going to be physically sick with the stress. It was obvious he had already agreed with his brother, but he was all too aware that the points which Laura was raising were valid and he did not approve of the way in which Tarquin was speaking to her.

Tarquin turned away from Laura to look upon the individual reactions of his guests. Finally he turned back to face his sister. "Laura, I apologise for my outburst. I should not have spoken to you like that. I brought you all here to listen to your opinions so that we could best come to a decision together. Unfortunately I have acted most inappropriately. I fear the reason for this being I have already made up my mind to go to Merrywinter, alone if necessary, regardless of what anyone says now. I do not know for sure what I will find there, but pray there will be the help or riches enough to save our peaceful village from the King's undoing."

"I will travel with you brother," declared Jessop.

"Me too," said Rhys, "If we are going to bring back enough gold to save us you will need more than two pairs of hands."

Laura looked stoical, "In that case, the three of you are sure to be in need of the calming voice of reason of at least one female companion. I fear you will have to suffer my presence too."

[Edited by Flark on Saturday, May 26, 2007 5:29 AM]

05/26/2007 4:11 PM

Aida had sat open-mouthed and wide-eyed during Tarquin's speech and the following heated exchange.

Why would the King do this?
They had always been dutiful, had always paid any taxes on time, had obeyed his laws.
They had seemed an injustice, these last years, but they had done all that was asked.
Why would he choose now to destroy the village?
A dead village could pay no taxes.

When Halvault had been mentioned she had shivered.

Whatever the original reason for it sequestering the place had become enshrouded in mystery and legend.
Hardly a night passed in either of the town's taverns when some dread tale of it was not told.

But with the shiver had also come a small tremor of relief.

[i]Six days... six days... that is nothing, Father would hardly notice.[/i]

She had been torn before hearing Tarquin speak, assuming a great and long journey would be placed before her.

When he had begun her heart had sunk: how could she refuse to go? She couldn't imagine how she would be important but if she could help at all then how could she say no?
She couldn't let the village die.

She was hardly joyous at the thought of defying the King's law and venturing to Merrywinter but, fearsome a prospect as it was, it was one she would gladly face if it meant but a short span away from the village.

"I... I do not know how I can help, but I will try. I will go with you."

She was a little surprised that her voice had remained steady.

05/26/2007 10:54 PM

Darith slammed a gloved fist against the table, and stood up with an enraged look on his face.."That bastard!" He kicked the chair away from him and seemed to allow some of his anger to simmer by walking away from the table..He paced a few moments before returning.."I dont care what it takes..My loyalties lie with the village's well being..Not to some tyrant who hasnt worked a moment in his life for what hes got!"

Darith slammed his fist against the table.."We sweat our arses off to keep Elmswhistle runnin, and i think its about time this pompous king stopped riddin our arses." He glared down at his gloved fist which was tightly clenched.."I will ride with you..I dont care if it costs me life..Ill happily ride to hell against that swine!"

Darith sat down at his chair and fumed angrily..Tarquin's speech had riled him up quite well, and he already hated paying taxes..As if living werent hard enough without some rich tax collector commin around pullin your wages straight out of your pocket.

05/27/2007 10:54 AM

Tarquin smiled with proud, almost tearful eyes at the reactions from those of who had already declared they would join him. He embraced his two brothers, shaking their hands and slapping them on the back warmly. Next he embraced Laura in a loving hug and kissed her on each cheek. "I promise I will let no harm come to you my dearest sister," he whispered.

Next he turned to Darith, "I must praise your strong spirit, Darith. I knew you were a man who would not let us down in such times of crisis. I admire your physically prowess and greatly value the contribution you will bring to the group. If indeed this is a trip from which we never return, we must take pride in knowing we were lost fighting for a cause which was just and true to our hearts." Tarquin clasped the hand of Darith in a strong handshake of newly formed comradeship.

"I... I do not know how I can help, but I will try. I will go with you."

"My dear Aida, you cannot comprehend the value I place on having your presence within the group!" declared Tarquin approaching the woman with outstretched arms for yet another warm embrace. "If indeed their is any truth to some of the legends of how the citizens of Halvault befell to sickness and disease all of those years ago, then our lives my very well depend on your early vigilance to spot such signs. If anyone does become sick or injured we will be solely relying on your skills and knowledge to save us." Tarquin pulled away from Aida and looked fervently into her eyes so that should could fully understand the responsibility which rested upon her shoulders.

05/30/2007 5:23 AM

Barclay sat quietly while the others responded to Tarquin's speech. He tried to reconcile to himself the idea that Tarquin had suggested. It sounded like madness; even if they managed to sneak past the patrols -- twice -- they would have to contend with the unknown dangers of Merrywinter. Bringing Aida was wise, but the rumours of Halvault's destruction had concerned more than plague. Would they be prepared for monsters or ghosts, should such things be encountered? And worse, what if nothing remained of the city? Their trip would be a waste of time, and they would return home only to await their doom. But did they have any other option? Nothing Barclay had thought of would work. Searching for Halvault seemed foolish, but was there really anything else they could do?

His mind turned for a moment to his family. Already he was thinking of how they would manage for the next six days. Flora, Bell and Blossom together could probably keep the farm running without him. It would be difficult, but they could do it. The only thing keeping him from going was his own fear.

Barclay stood up and found the attention of Tarquin. "I'll go as well." He wanted to say more, but feared losing his nerve if he voiced his doubts in front of everyone. He sat down again without another word.

05/30/2007 12:05 PM

Barclay stood up and found the attention of Tarquin. "I'll go as well." He wanted to say more, but feared losing his nerve if he voiced his doubts in front of everyone. He sat down again without another word.

Tarquin turned to the ever stoical farmer and reached across the table to firmly clasp his hand.

"Barclay! My oldest and most loyal friend, I knew you wouldn't let me down. I can think of no one who could bring more to the group in terms of levelheadedness and practical thinking. Having you by my side as my advisor no doubt enhances the success of our quest."

Tarquin was practically booming with confidence and resolve now. Releasing his grip from Barclay's hand, he reached for his mug of ale which he raised in a toast.

"May the road to Merrywinter rise to meet us! May the wind be always at our backs, and the gold and lost fortunes of Halvault weigh heavy in our packs!..

And may Elmswhistle forever be the place we call home."

"[b]For Elmswhistle![/b]" replied the group in unison.

Once the cheers and excitement had died down, Tarquin addressed the group again in a more serious nature.

"Go back to your homes and families now and tell them what little information you must tell. Mention nothing of Merrywinter or Halvault for their own safety should anything go wrong. Tell them you are travelling up river to meet a group heading from Dennison on business with the Daggervales if you need a cover story.

Let us meet again tomorrow before noon. With the exception of Rhys and Darith, we should all leave Elmswhistle via on the east road. Once out of sight from the village we will double back on ourselves keeping south of Elmswhistle, making our way west to the narrowest point of crossing for to Merrywinter.

Darith, Rhys. I am entrusting a vital part of our plan to you pair for two reasons. Firstly, under the guise of our group attending a business trip I don't think either of your two exclusions will be notable. Secondly and most importantly, both of you are competent boatmen who wouldn't look out of place seen fishing or frequenting the riverbank.

I need you to take the two remaining Daggervale rowing boats with full fishing gear and head down river to meet us on the west bank. Obviously once you reach the open water you will need to be extremely vigilant of any potential Denzabian Patrols. If you get spotted and pulled in, just act natural, try not to rouse suspicion and pray they let you be on your way. By the time you reach us waiting at the narrowest point of crossing on the west bank we will have the cover of darkness to hide our passage.

Obviously we will be travelling on foot, so pack lightly, wrap up warm, and bring only dried provisions as we cannot risk building a fire on the island. However low the risk, in the case of being spotted by a patrol between Elmswhistle and the west bank, we should bring nothing but small hunting style weapons if any."

Tarquin paused for a moment, "Unless there are any questions or objections you are free to return to your homes now when ready."

05/31/2007 2:00 PM

Aida stood from the table and excused herself, walking slowly through the still village once she let the inn, arms wrapped around herself tightly.

She didn't hear the defiant trilling of the birds, brazen in the faint late-evening light, too busy with her own thoughts.

When her steps brought her eventually to the gate of her home Atherol was standing there, affecting nonchalance.

He looked at her wordlessly, taking in her face and strained smile: but he said nothing, only laying a large hand on her arm and leading her inside.

He remained silent as she made rosehip tea for both of them, and she was grateful of it, the walk home not having been enough to oranise her thoughts.

She was half way through her tea before she began to speak.
"I... the Daggervales are journeying on business to Dennison and have... asked me to accompany them. They-" she shook her head and shrugged, "-plan on trading and might need my advice."

He nodded, the tiniest trace of a rueful smile in his eyes.

"I will only be gone a few days- six, at most", the words came out in a rush, and apologetically. "And.. I will be in no danger".

He nodded again, not giving voice to the doubts he obviously had.

"All of the Daggervales will make the journey- and Barclay, and Darith. We will be safe."

He stood- stiffly, she thought in dismay- and walked over to where she sat, laying both of his hands on her shoulders.

"Then it is best if you start packing. I will see you in the morning," he ran a hand gently through her hair, gleaming darkly in the firelight, "my raven."
He kissed the top of her head lightly and went to his bed.

She waited until she heard the frame creak before brushing the tears from her eyes, then went to the storeroom to try to decide what supplies to bring with her.

06/02/2007 9:13 PM

Eolande had not spoken as the group erupted into passionate agreement with Tarquin and the other Daggervales. Indeed, she had not even risen from her seat throughout his entire speech, her violet eyes solemn and soft in the candlelight. The King would push more and more taxes upon them until they could not breathe for choking against his hand. They would die, each of them, as the town, trade and land died along with them. It was an easy, simple process. A painful one.

But the risk was great. Halvault was cursed, the land forbidden. The souls of the dead were rumored to walk there even. Her eyes glazed over slightly, with the light of unshed tears. To face the undead, in a city forgotten and forbidden, was beyond her. Darith's passion was beyond her. She had little for the King to tax, and should he take it from her, she would be better off in the forest even, away from all prying eyes. A quiet, deep solitude.

Why indeed, was she even at this meeting? She had nothing to offer, no healing skills to help, to boating skills to keep them afloat in the treacherous, killing water. Her presence, surely could not be needed. She would be more of use helping those from the Cloak and Dagger. Surely she could help more from her job here.

Eolande blinked slowly, pulling her drink infront of it and staring into the clear liquid. Reflected in her eyes she saw fear. The rippling pools in the cup and the racing water of the river that swept her son away. The water was dangerous, the river more fierce than anything she could ever face. No treasure in Halvault could be too much for the others to handle. She lifted her eyes to watch the others speak to Jessop, Tarquin and Laura, her lips trembling slightly, but growing into a firmer line.

Laura would try to convince her to come with them, despite all the probability that she would hinder the party, not help. Tarquin - Eolande suffered a small smile at the man's impenetrable confidence and smile - she would not disturb him. Slowly she rose and glided quietly over to Jessop, taking his arm and pulling him aside.

"[i]I cannot go.[/i]" she said softly, violet orbs rising to meet his. Fear trickled within her eyes, pooled with something much deeper, and much more uncertain.

[Edited by CandlestickJay on Saturday, June 2, 2007 9:14 PM]

06/03/2007 11:05 AM

Slowly she rose and glided quietly over to Jessop, taking his arm and pulling him aside.

"[i]I cannot go.[/i]" she said softly, violet orbs rising to meet his.

"Fear not my dear, no one will force you to go against your wishes-" Jessop's gentle reply was cut short by Tarquin who had suddenly noticed the young woman's distress.

"Ah! Eolande, do not trouble yourself my girl, of course I have not forgotten about you!" he boomed, "You role in the group is indeed an important one! If my beloved sister is insistent on accompanying us on this journey, then who else will keep her out of trouble! And more importantly, [i]keep her off my back[/i]." Tarquin burst into laughter and stepped forwards to formally embrace the frightened girl into the group.

"No brother. You misunderstand-" cut in Jessop, pulling Eolande away as if to defend her.

06/04/2007 12:24 AM

Being brought out into the open was the very last thing Eolande would wish. To have the attention on her, the very last thing she could even think about. She treasured Jessop's protectiveness though, and when he began to speak, she touched his arm gently.

"No brother. You misunderstand-" cut in Jessop, pulling Eolande away as if to defend her.

"Please, Jessop, it is alright." she said softly, liquid amber glittering in her eyes for a moment. His defense of her was truly precious, if only more men had his same sense...Her own logic pressured her into speaking once more. It was the truth. "If Tarquin wishes my presence, then I will not refuse."

She allowed Jessop a small smile. "Thank you. Goodnight sir." With a slight curtsy, she took a small step backwards.She attempted to swallow her own fear. If it came down to it, she might as well throw herself over the edge of the boat and allow the water itself to claim her. If Laura needed her, she would go. And she owed the Daggervales more than enough that should tie her to whatever venture they would embark upon.

Simply put, she must not allow her own fears and feelings to rise above what must be done. At the moment, the quest was most desired of her, and so it would be.

06/04/2007 11:15 AM

"Please, Jessop, it is alright."

"If Tarquin wishes my presence, then I will not refuse."

Jessop opened his mouth as though he was about to argue, but then hesitated as he momentarily thought better of the idea. Before he could come to a clear decision of which way to handle this delicate situation, Eolande quickly bid them goodnight and excused herself from the room.

Tarquin's attention had already turned elsewhere. He was hurriedly ushering the rest of the guests outside, seeing them off with warm, enthusiastic gestures and encouraging words. Jessop followed as the group quickly dispersed outside. Tarquin and Barclay hastily galloped away upon the magnificent Nightvale, leaving the dark street once more silent and empty.

Returning to the bar room, Jessop noted Laura and Rhys were the only two remaining.

"I have already dismissed Eolande," Laura informed him. "Carson can take care of the clearing up. It is essential that we all get a good night's sleep. Myself and Rhys are returning to the estate tonight and will inform Gerrad that we will all be away for a few days. Do not worry about father, Gerrad will take care of him and the house as always."

Jessop simply nodded, then bid them goodnight as the pair left the inn. Slowly he trudged over to the bar and pulled himself one final mug of ale before he planned to retire for the night...

06/04/2007 11:15 AM

(The Twenty-Fourth day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)

(Day two)


Jessop awoke groggily slumped upon the bar with an empty ale mug still clutched in his hand. Daylight penetrated the cracks between the shutters and to his horror revealed the mess of the usually immaculate Cloak and Dagger. With the prospect of Carson reporting for work any minute, Jessop quickly decided against attempting to clean up. Instead he scribbled down an ambiguous note of apology, explaining their departure, which he then pinned to the bar. Without further delay he scurried outside and disappeared to gather his travel equipment in preparation for the long journey ahead.


Two figures, a man and a woman, casually made their way along Elmswhistle's main street on the road which left the village in an eastern direction.

The man was the tall, imposing figure of Tarquin Daggervale. His usual grand attire had been replaced by a simple dark, heavy, hooded hunting cloak. He wore a sturdy pair of knee high leather walking boots and carried a large leather pack, as well as a quiver and hunting bow strapped upon his back. With his hood down, his wavy, shoulder length graying black hair hung loose and blew freely in the fresh morning breeze. As always his face was adorned with his short graying beard and moustache which now acted as an addition to his new grizzled hunter style appearance.

Accompanying him was the ever beautiful Laura Daggervale. She wore a short black waist length cloak and was clad in tight leather trousers. She wore a softer looking style of brown knee high boots and carried a much smaller pack on her back. Her long, usually free-flowing black hair was tied back into a ponytail giving her a completely different, but equally stunning appearance.

Reaching the perimeter of the village outskirts, the pair stopped and waited for the arrival of those who would accompany them...

06/04/2007 1:11 PM

"Do you have the flint?"

"Yes, father".

Aida was double checking her satchel, checking the carefully organised packages, and making sure the delicate bottles were wrapped carefully in padding.

"And the rope".

"Yes- but I don't know what-"

"Better cautious than rueful, child."

She smiled at Atherol patiently, her dark hair loose and framing her face in gentle curls, making it look pale in the dim light of the house.

"[i]Yes[/i], father".

She had turned back to the satchel when he spoke again.

"I put the blade in your backpack. Once you're out of the village wear it at your side."

She frowned, and turned to face him, they had already had words about the sword earlier in the morning.

"I don't need it- I will be [i]fine[/i], Father. We travel lightly and only for a short distance."

He came closer, taking her hand.

"Take it, please. It will help me rest easier. Once you've left the village wear it at your side, [i]always[/i]".

She didn't argue further, simply squeezing his hand before draping the strap of the satchel across her shoulder.
Carrying her pack he walked to the gate, then both of them started down the path, going towards the eastern edge of the village, the red of her shawl and jerkin bright against the dust of the road. Today she did not need to slow her steps to his; her feet dragged of their own accord.

Aida's breath caught when she saw Laura and Tarquin, the sight of them making the moment seem more real, but she managed a smile as they drew nearer.

Atherol nodded to the pair.

"Master Daggervale, Miss Daggervale," his voice was rough, but no more so than usual.
"I hope this morning found your father well".

06/04/2007 1:42 PM

[Posted By nanuk]
"Master Daggervale, Miss Daggervale," his voice was rough, but no more so than usual.
"I hope this morning found your father well".

"As well as can be expect my good sir," replied Tarquin brightly stepping forward to greet the old man with a firm handshake. "And how are you on this fine morning, Atherol?"

Before the old man could reply, Tarquin turned to glance upon Aida for a moment before turning his attention back towards her father.

"I sense your concerned for your daughter, good man, which of course is only natural for any devoting father... Fear not Atherol, our journey is but a brief one and you have my word that no harm to come to her while their is breath in my body." Tarquin's face was deathly serious while he paused to give weight to his words. Suddenly his expression softened and he grinned, "Let us not get carried away, this but a simple business trip, the kind in which myself and Jessop make every month. No harm will come our way I assure you."

06/04/2007 3:25 PM

"Let us not get carried away, this but a simple business trip, the kind in which myself and Jessop make every month. No harm will come our way I assure you."

Atherol's response was uncharacteristically soft as he regarded Tarquin appraisingly, finally grasping him by the elbow.
"I trust both your motivations and your intentions, just as I trust you to take care of my Aida."

Turning to his daughter he pulled her close in an embrace, speaking softly in her ear before releasing her.
"And I trust you to use the sense you were graced with, and not to do anything foolish."
He cupped the side of her head with his hand, smiling tightly.
"And remember- [i]always[/i] at your side".

She nodded, unable to speak through the tightness in her throat.

"Now, I'll be off, otherwise you'll be delayed with nattering. Season's luck to you all, and God speed".

Stiff-backed he walked back down te road toward the village.

Eyes shining but tears unshed she turned to Laura.

"I've left instructions with Dr. Fell- if your father needs anything Bell knows to fetch it, and where everything is stored, but if she's too busy with the farm I've it all laid out and labelled for Da".

[Edited by nanuk on Monday, June 4, 2007 3:28 PM]

06/04/2007 7:12 PM

Eolande awoke at dawn, a fairly common action for her. Her small room above the Inn was plain and nearly stark, immaculate except for a small bag and her bedroll. She had packed the night before, and would be ready to leave the instant she was dressed.

Her dreams that night had been restless, and in each the water claimed her son over, and over again. In some, she fell in as well. In others she saw [i]him[/i] laughing from above her. Eolande rubbed her eyes tiredly, casting a quick glance over her appearance in the mirror. The circles beneath her violet eyes may give her lack of sleep away, but it would not matter once they were off. She was dreading it though. It was new, and new never seemed to work out in her favor. Focused in on her thoughts, she untied and then rebraided her auburn hair, taking great care to do it well.

Slowly she turned to her things, placing the sash and pack firmly across her chest, and then tied her cloak around her neck, adjusting it properly so it would cover all of her equipment. As she pulled open the door, a sound echoed off the stairs, bouncing up the noise of a hastily left chair. A small frown creased her mouth and forehead as she hurried with silent feet down the stairs, barely catching a glimpse of Jessop's scurrying form as he disappeared out the door and then down the street. "What was he..." she murmured softly, scanning the bar with clear violet eyes.

"Ah." She came upon the mess, an empty mug and the remains of food. Taking a glance at the hastily scribbled note, she folded it neatly and tucked it in her pocket. She would take care of the mess before Carson would even arrive. Placing her things on the table closest to the door, she quickly set about straightening the chairs and mugs, making sure everything would be in its usual order by the time the boss man arrived.

She had just finished with the last dishes when Carson entered the kitchen through the back door. Drying her hands, she smiled at him casually. "Good morning."

He raised an eyebrow at her. "You aren't usually this energetic in the morning Eolande." he responded. "This doesn't happen to have anything to do with what went on here last night?"

"I simply can't keep anything from you, can I?" she replied with an easy smile. It was quickly clouded over though as she continued speaking. "I have to go for a little while, on a buisness venture of the Daggervales. Surely you will be able to manage without me?"

The man was not convinced, and his posture, silouhetted in the doorway only added to his obvious aggravation. "Well I'll be short a waitress and with another of the girls out with that baby-" he muttered, missing the obvious look of pain that shot through her eyes and then dissapeared, "I guess I'll just have to make do. You can't exactly say no to them folks, no matter how kind they be."

Taking his muttering as a frustrated agreement, gathered her things and then gave the man a hug. Despite his gruffness, he had done much for her. "Thank you." she said softly.

"Just take care of yourself. I need a lass like you around to keep the men happy." Carson responded gruffly. "Now get along and have your venture."

With that, she tucked her hair away inside her hood and exited the inn, peering around for her party. Noticing the small group nearby, she walked towards them, approaching the always attractive Laura Daggervale. "Laura!"

[Edited by CandlestickJay on Tuesday, June 5, 2007 10:28 AM]

06/05/2007 10:10 AM

[Posted By nanuk]

"I've left instructions with Dr. Fell- if your father needs anything Bell knows to fetch it, and where everything is stored, but if she's too busy with the farm I've it all laid out and labelled for Da".

"Thank you so much Aida, we gratefully appreciate your thoroughness as always. Poor old Gerrad doesn't have much to keep himself busy with either now that the estate is all but empty. Other than looking after father, there isn't a great lot for him to do these days. I'm sure our father is in the safest of hands," assured Laura.

Tarquin nodded in agreeance.


"Eolande, thank goodness," called Laura, rushing to greet her friend. "I had my stubborn head on last night," she whispered rolling her eyes, "but I think I would have gone crazy spending so much time with my brothers without your company," she laughed.

"Where is Jessop, we have not seen him this morning?"

06/05/2007 10:31 AM

"Eolande, thank goodness," called Laura, rushing to greet her friend. "I had my stubborn head on last night," she whispered rolling her eyes, "but I think I would have gone crazy spending so much time with my brothers without your company," she laughed.

"Where is Jessop, we have not seen him this morning?"

"I think you really would manage quite well with your brothers." Eolande replied easily, linking arms with the woman in a quite girlish fashion. She raised her eyebrows questioningly at her next question however. "Jessop? Why I would have thought that you would have seen him pass by. He left a note apologizing for the mess at the Cloak and Dagger, and near dawn this morning. I'm not sure where he went."

Worry creased her forehead for a moment, but it passed. He surely could take care of himself, though falling asleep at the bar wasn't his most ingenious of plans.

06/08/2007 8:21 AM

Barclay and Bell walked silently together along the path between the farm and the town, Barclay's mind clouded by a wild mix of feelings. The fear he had felt the night before had alleviated somewhat, replaced by determination, pride, and a strange sense of emptiness.

The determination came from the mission now before him. He had focused in the evening on packing what he would need for the journey, a task his daughters eagerly helped with. They were not happy to see him go, and had objected when he first told them that he would be gone for six days. But he assured them that he would be in no danger, and they eventually accepted that they could not sway him, instead preparing for his trip and the heavy responsibility they would carry while he was gone.

This was the source of his pride. Barclay had never been a very good father to his daughters, but it warmed his heart to see that he had been a good teacher. Bell and Blossom were always eager to work when he gave them a chance, and as he left the farm for what would be his longest time away in his entire life, he now felt confident that disaster would not befall them.

His pride in this was clouded by a feeling of emptiness. Though his actions in the days ahead would be of great consequence to the town, what would become of him afterward? If all went well, he would return to a farm that no longer needed him. Perhaps with his daughters and him working together, they could work more of the land. Eventually, Bell and Blossom would find husbands and have children, and the larger farm would support them. Nonetheless, Barclay felt as if he had taken a step toward oblivion, and a new fear grew inside him.

Though she did not show it in front of her father, Bell, too, was anxious about the next few days. With Aida traveling, she and Doctor Fell would have to tend to the medicinal needs of the town, which likely meant that she would be carrying his supplies and doing other physical tasks that the aging doctor could not. And when he did not need her help, she would have to hurry back home and help Blossom and their mother with the farm and house. The hard work ahead was both intimidating and exciting, and she had been on the verge of tears as they left the house just before dawn. She put on a brave face for her father, however, and did not allow herself to cry as they made their way toward the town.

The trip took them more than an hour on foot, and the sun now shone brightly, the air warming up as dawn gave way to day. They were nearly in town now, and Barclay waved hello to Tarquin as they approached.

06/08/2007 10:33 AM

"Ahh, Barclay my old friend!" pronounced Tarquin as the farmer and his daughter approached the group. "Glad to see you could make it... Which is more than I can say for Jessop who is yet to grace us with his presence!" Tarquin clasped his friend on the shoulder in his typical brash manner of greeting.


Jessop hurried down the street to meet his companions. Despite his late and seemingly ill prepared arrival he looked very well equipped for the journey ahead. His extravagantly embroidered blue and green surcoat had been replaced by a worn looking one of plain brown leather, over which he wore a thick, hooded forest green cloak. Across his waist and partially concealed by the cloak he wore a thick leather belt which carried a scabbard containing a relatively short looking, regular one-handed arming sword. On a his back he carried a large leather travelling pack identical to that of his brother.

"Well met everyone. I am the last to arrive I see," he stated, still breathing quite heavily upon reaching the group. "Come then, let us not tarry much longer, we have much ground to cover before sundown."

The group gave Barclay a few moments to bid farewell to his daughter Bell, before setting off on the long and arduous journey ahead.

06/08/2007 3:15 PM

Eolande took a few carefully measured steps to walk in stride with Jessop, turning to look at him gravely as she spoke. "I took care of the incident you left behind this morning, Jessop." she said softly, a bare hint of humor in her eyes, though not readily apparent. "I believe your family was a little worried when you did not arrive home. You should be more careful."

As they walked, beginning to leave the town behind, she felt the first small trills of fear rippling through her body, a sense that not only left her feeling cold...but also incredibly lonely. At least when she was alone, she was truly alone. As she glanced about her companions, she saw friends, and Laura, her dearest friend in the world, but all of them had accepted this journey. Even now she felt the doubt and worry that preceded such a task, a foreboding task that would be hazardous and...wet. She sighed, her violet eyes watching the ground her feet tread on softly. It involved the river. It would probably be very wet.

06/14/2007 2:54 PM

It felt so strange to be wearing breeches.

Aida felt uncomfortably warm as they walked along the road, the pace relaxed but not too leisurely to keep up the appearance of an ordinary, if rare, business trip.

Even late in the season when she would be gathering herbs, even in the marshiest of ground, she wore a skirt: they were so much more practical- they could be hiked up out of the wet [i]and[/i] used as a temporary resting place of collected samples.

Although the leggings would, no doubt, prove more functional over the course of their travels, it felt peculiar to have her legs encased in the scratchy material, not to mention itchy in the growing heat.

The discomfort did have one advantage, however; it kept her mind off the more serious purpose of their journey.

At least for a short time.

She still couldn't understand why this should be done to them- had they not suffered more than their share of privation and loss?
Why would the King decide now to strangle them?

Already the village was but a shadow of its former self, populated more by ghosts than the living: ghosts which, in the main, had more vigour than those of flesh and blood who remained.
Not one soul living in Elmswhistle was untouched by loss, although some had suffered more than others.

[i]Almost more than is bearable[/i]

At the thought her gaze flitted momentarily to Eolande, who looked as thoughtful- as did all the others of their small group.

[i]Pitifully small...[/i]

What would they face, she wondered.
If they escaped the notice of the patrols- God's grace that they would- what would they encounter when they reached the island?
If the fates were kind then the dread tales told would prove merely that- tales, wild fancy.

But in her experience, limited though it be, where there was rumour- no matter how fanciful- it stemmed from some small kernel of truth.

06/15/2007 6:04 AM

Setting the pace, Tarquin marched off briskly to lead the party from the front in typical fashion. At times his industrious and often bossy personality appeared a little overpowering to some, but there was no question that his heart was in the right place and he would never ask of others that which he would not do himself.

Eolande took a few carefully measured steps to walk in stride with Jessop, turning to look at him gravely as she spoke. "I took care of the incident you left behind this morning, Jessop." she said softly, a bare hint of humor in her eyes, though not readily apparent. "I believe your family was a little worried when you did not arrive home. You should be more careful."

"Thank you Eolande..."

Jessop hesitated for a moment as though he wanted to say something more. He leaned in close to her as they walked and spoke in a soft but concerned tone, so that only she could hear his words.

"I appreciate what you have done for me. These last few days especially, my head has been clouded with.. dark thoughts. I'm all too aware that I have not been my usual self. If I have seemed distant and approachable I must give you my most sincere apologies."

Again he hesitated, discernibly aware that he was saying too much he seemed to alter his attitude and words.

"My head is straight now, I assure you," he said with a warm smile, doing his best to look convincing.

After less than half an hour of walking in the easterly direction they were soon completely out of sight from the village. Halting the group Tarquin announced it was time to start cutting back on themselves, and that from now on they must keep their voices down and do their best to remain undetected.

He quickly ushered the group off the main road guiding them southwards to disappear into the sparse woodland. Eventually the group started to turn in a south-westerly direction once they were sure they would be well clear of the southern-most border of the village.

By late afternoon they had managed to completely bypass Elmswhistle without incident, but the weather had already taken a turn for the worst. The skies were gray and a constant relentless light drizzle soon had them soaked to the skin.

06/15/2007 9:06 PM

Darith had met Rhys rather early that morning, and they had gotten together all the supplies they would need for the trip, and to make things look less suspicious Darith had hidden his longsword underneath the cargo in their fishing boat. It was a rather eleborately designed longsword as it belonged to his adoptive father.. The knightly blade had been kept in good condition. Darith's gloved hand rested on his chin. He noticed that he hadnt shaved. "Bah.." He said aloud in his gruff tone.

Rhys had either ignored the comment or was too busy getting his affairs in order.
Darith quickly snapped out of his day dream, and helped Rhys finish packing things into the boat. When all was ready they both took an oar, and began paddling down stream.
Darith's tanned muscular arms rippled with each stroke of the paddle.

After a rather ackward amount of silence between the two Darith spoke up. "How bad do you think things are gonna get?" Rhys was silent a moment before answering. "I wish i knew the answer to that."

Darith nodded slowly, and he was for a moment lost in the memories that often haunted him.. The flashback was subtle, but it happened. He was laying underneath the stars on a grassy hill with his soon to be bride. Her voice was like a soft breeze, and her hair as fair as he had ever been witness to. "Arent those stars pretty?" She had asked him. His reply had been an amusement to her. "Not as pretty as you.." He mouthed those words silently in the boat.

Rhys furrowed his eyebrows.."What are you mumbling about?" Darith snapped out of it again. "Oh sure are alot of fish down there.." Rhys furrowed his eyebrows even more.."How can you see the water is the murkiest ive ever seen it before?" Darith cleared his throat.."Please.. Im a fishermen.."

Darith continued rowing, and eventually they reached the checkpoint on which they had to beware of patrol ships..As they crossed under a bridge"Coast is clear.. I dont see any-" Darith looked to the left and saw a patrol ship waiting for anyone to cross. "Well isnt that something?" Darith said with obvious sarcasm.

Flark if this isnt good enough buddy please let me know and ill edit))

06/15/2007 9:46 PM

"My head is straight now, I assure you," he said with a warm smile, doing his best to look convincing.

She could do no more than attempt to believe him. But his secrets were his own, as her secrets were her own. A little voice inside her dared to whisper that maybe she might share her secrets with another...but he was quickly quenched among the thousands of other mumblers in her life.

Nodding to him slightly like she understood, Eolande kept pace with him for a little longer. Then after a few more minutes of pensive silence, she dropped back to walk by herself. She shuddered with the early morning cold, her eyes focused down where her feet were treading, like not tripping was the most important thing on her mind...


"So where are you from again, handsome stranger?" The girl Eolande giggled, her hands twirled up inside her skirt as she leaned against the counter in her own kitchen.

The tall handsome man that lounged easily against the doorsill shrugged, his clear blue eyes twinkling. "Far from where you have ever been fair maiden. Places where the sea is more green than blue, where the sky tinges on gray all year around and ne'er a single cloud in the sky. Cities where the people roam because they have nothing better to do, where the armies march under a single banner to fight for another lost cause."

His newly strong, able-bodied form glided quickly across the room to stand at her side, and with a motion that seemed to take hours to the just barely twenty young woman, he lifted her chin with a single finger to face him.

"But of all the places I have ever been, a woman so lovely and divine as you I have never found." His words were whispered, and he leaned in to take a kiss she eagerly returned, her youth and his shaggy traveled ways magnetically attracted.

After a moment, she pulled away, her face flushed and eyes glittery with delight and fevered passion. "Will you take me away?" she asked eagerly as he snaked one arm around her waist to pull her closer to him. "Will you take me to see these places, each one different and another a surprise?"

"One day soon my beautiful Eolande. One day soon."

He enfolded her into his arms and then lifted her up, carrying her away...


Eolande stumbled over a stone, nearly falling. Thankful for the breeches and not the skirt that would have otherwise tangled her, she quickly regained her footing, and continued walking. She hoped vaguely that no one had seen her stumble.

With a sigh, she stuffed away the longing and the guilty shame that would have otherwise flushed her cheeks. Why did thoughts of him still torment her this way? As if the guilt was not enough, as if the pain could not split her heart into a thousand more pieces, as if the grief over her dead sons could not purge the light of her soul into darkness any faster. He was still there, in her thoughts, in her anger, in her daily loneliness.

Her footsteps turned as they did, a slight relief pulling her away from her thoughts as she returned to the world of the living. They had been able to pass Elmswhistle, without even a whisper of their prescence.

Smelling the scent of musky rain in the air, Eolande sighed, pulling her cloak tighter around her shoulders. The dark clouds fit her pensive uncertain mood that carried them toward the water. Shaking yet another puddle from her shoulders, she tried to avoid thinking about the rising currents that would sweep small boats away.

06/19/2007 3:33 PM

Her cloak doing little to to keep out the damp Aida was soon wet through, her clothes a sodden weight.
Her boots had proven sound, but the drizzle was so insidious that it had soaked through to her breeches, and down to her feet from there.

As heroic adventures went, this wasn't the most auspicious start.

[i]Stop your whining- if inclement weather is the worst thing we face on this journey then God favours us[/i]

That the inner voice sounded remarkably like Lisabet brought a small smile to her face.
Even when a child, her younger sister had been eminently practical and pragmatic, never one to grouse or complain about something that couldn't be changed.
Even when she had announced her decision to leave the village for Wexdale she had been matter-of-fact, with reasons and arguments for leaving prepared and thought through.
She missed her.

Sighing, Aida looked around her.
The beauty of their small corner of Denzibar never lost its magic for her.
The rain might be an inconvenience, but it washed the dust and dirt from all, revealing the myriad hues that lay beneath; nature's vibrant palette creating a seemingly infinite variety of shades of green, here and there adorned with rich browns, brash reds, and delicate blues.

She had been this far from the village before- on fine days or when she had no other matters pressing- but the knowledge that, if all went to plan, they would not pass this way for a number of days made everything seem fresh in her eyes.

Quickening her pace slightly she moved towards the head of the group, where Tarquin strode implacably, appearing unheeding of the rain.

"Tarquin, how long do you think it will take us to reach the boats? Will we have to leave the roads to avoid patrols or need we only be concerned about them once we are afloat?"

06/20/2007 10:30 AM

Their journey down river had gone splendidly without incident. Until this point their cruise had been almost leisurely with the strong currents in their favour. Now that they were nearing the point where the river widened, so close to where it merged into the sea, the weather was beginning to change. Rhys felt a strong coastal breeze beginning to pick up and noted the waters ahead looked much rougher than he was comfortable with. Even the light drizzling rainfall which had persisted through much of the journey so far began to fall much heavier now. The only positive thing to take from the whole situation was that the wind and the currents seemed to be guiding them in exactly the south-westerly direction they were intending.

At the final stretch of the river, just before they would enter the open waters, Rhys suddenly realised things were about to get a whole lot worse.

"Coast is clear.. I dont see any-" Darith looked to the left and saw a patrol ship waiting for anyone to cross. "Well isnt that something?" Darith said with obvious sarcasm.

There was nothing they could do. The current which at this part of the river was far too strong to fight against would be guiding them straight past the patrol ship in a matter of minutes. To avoid arrest they could easily claim they lost control of the boat and didn't mean to be this far downstream, but there would be no way they would be able to meet up with the others and make it to the island. The plan was doomed.

"To the bank!" scream Rhys as he plunged his ore into the water in a desperate attempt to turn the boat left and make for the cover of the trees at the nearest riverbank before they were spotted. His actions did little to change the boat's direction of travel, but instead spun it around onto it's side resulting in it almost capsizing. Rhys was flung towards Darith, cracking his head on something solid which turned out to be Darith's seat. Landing face down in the boat Rhys slowly picked himself up then cried out in anguish at the sudden realisation that Darith was no longer in the boat.

Picking himself up he frantically looked around to see Darith splashing around furiously trying to catch up with the boat, but to no avail. Darith was already several yards behind it, and the distance was growing by the second.

Suddenly and instinctively an idea formed in Rhys's head. "[b][i]Swim to the patrol ship! You were alone!![/b][/i]" he cried out.

Rhys looked back over his shoulder to see the patrol ship was moored to the south bank, dangerously close now. Quickly he hit the deck of the boat and buried himself underneath the bundles of supplies and fishing gear which the pair of them had packed. There was no doubt that the patrol would spot the [i]empty[/i] boat drifting past. So long as Darith made enough noise there was little doubt they would spot him too. Hopefully they would be too busy rescuing him to bother about intercepting an empty fishing boat in which case they might just get away with this.

06/20/2007 10:31 AM

Tarquin turned in response to Aida who had quickened her pace to join him at the front of the group.

"If all goes as planned we should reach the coast by nightfall. Being out here in the middle of nowhere it is unlikely we should come across a patrol, but nevertheless we should be careful and ever vigilant. My gravest concerns at the moment lie with Darith and Rhys. It will not be so easy for them to remain out of sight so we must rely on an element of luck and their ability to look inconspicuous."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As the group made their way ever westward, the trees became more sparse and eventually the ground became rocky and barren. Strong coastal winds battered about their bodies while the rain quickly increased into a relentless heavy downpour.

The weather was not being kind to them so far and the journey had been tiring and far from pleasant. Regardless of what they themselves were enduring, most of the groups concerns lay with Darith, Rhys, and the condition of the sea which they were about to face.

"Ah, I can see the ocean!" cried out Tarquin, struggling to be heard above the howling wind and the crashing of waves. "There is something about the sight, sound and smell of the sea which makes me feel so ... [i]alive[/i]."

In the moonlight the group had emerged from over what had appeared to be a rocky hillock, but instead turned out to be a gradually descending cliff top which lead down towards the sea. From this high vantage point they had an excellent view down to the stormy violent sea below.

"This does not look at all good. The boat will be smashed to pieces if we try to embark down there." observed Jessop.

06/23/2007 5:24 AM

Hunched together on the cliff top, the companions scoured the coastline for a safe place where Darith and Rhys were likely to bring the boat into berth.

"The shore seems much less rocky down there to the left of us," stated Jessop.

"Hmm," Tarquin responded stroking his short beard thoughtfully.

"[b]There![/b]" gasped Laura, "I can see the boat!"

See was correct. Just coming into view from behind some rocks to the right of them was a small boat being tossed around violently by the waves.

"Come on, quickly!" Leading the way, Tarquin sprang into action by making his way down the steep, craggy cliff edge. Tumbling slightly as he began to descend he was fortunate to grasp at a protruding rock and regain his balance, avoiding a possibly fatal fall. "Watch your footing," rescinded, "it is quite slippery in places!"

Regardless of the near incident and his words of caution to those who followed, Tarquin proceeded down the cliff with utmost speed. Jessop was not far behind him, but Tarquin was the first to reach the bottom where he raced across the stony beach and into the storm raging sea.

By the time Jessop reached the sea's edge he could see neither Tarquin nor the boat. Huge waves crashed against the large and deadly looking rocks which were dotted around the shallows of this part of the coastline.

"[b]Tarquin![/b]" he called out into the darkness against the roaring of the waves. "[b]Tarquin[/b]" he called again, this time cupping his hands against his mouth in a futile attempt to project his voice further.

Suddenly a drenched figure chest deep in water appeared out of the gloom from behind a rock. Jessop charged into the sea to meet him.

Tarquin was clutching at a rope which had been tossed from the boat and was trying in vain to pull it ashore. In the boat Rhys could be seen desperately rowing a pair of ores like a man possessed. Even when Jessop joined Tarquin on the end of the rope there was still no hope of them bringing the boat in. All of their efforts were doing just enough to prevent the boat being smashed against the closest rock, but little more. It was obvious from their vain efforts that the only way the companions could board the boat would be to swim out to it.

Sensing the predicament Laura rushed into the treacherous waters passed her struggling brothers and began swimming towards the boat. The brothers watched in horror as tragedy struck in the form an exceptionally large wave which swallowed her up and she disappeared from their sight completely.

06/23/2007 9:58 PM

"There!" gasped Laura, "I can see the boat!"

Eolande was rooted to the spot, the wind and ferocious skies tearing at her cloak, ripping the hood from her head and drenching her with rain head to toe. The crashing waves drew her eyes like a rat to the mouse trap, shocks of terror shaking her to the very core of her body. The wind screamed in her ears, and she would swear she heard voices...


[i] "Mommy! Mommy!"

Eolande turned towards the river side at a full run, her legs tangling in her skirt as she raced to the water's edge, the cries of her small son breaking the river's music as it crashed and fell. "Alzen? Alzen where are you?" she cried out, searching frantically.

A gargled scream from downstream froze her heart and she screamed, spotting a small arm lifted above the river's quickly rising torrents. [b] "Alzen! ALZEN!"[/b] [/i]


"Tarquin!" he called out into the darkness against the roaring of the waves. "Tarquin!" he called again, this time cupping his hands against his mouth in a futile attempt to project his voice further.

Her entire body shook with the fists of rain her wild auburn locks tearing from their roots into the wind. In her ears her own cries of her son's name mixed with those of Jessop's, his frantic shouts beginning to be lost among the waves. Watching the ferocity of the waves pummel the boat repeatedly, she stared in dead shock at the figure that began to emerge, struggling against the river's anger.

The fight seemed to be hopeless, as again and again the wind roared its fury into the skies and the waves sought to tear the boat free from Tarquin's grasp.

Sensing the predicament Laura rushed into the treacherous waters passed her struggling brothers and began swimming towards the boat. The brothers watched in horror as tragedy struck in the form an exceptionally large wave which swallowed her up and she disappeared from their sight completely.

[b][i] "NO!" [/i][/b]The words were lost in the wind, and Eolande stumbled forward in a frenzied mix of fear and anguish. Propelled by terror for her friend and by instinct alone she made it to the river's edge, and then stopped, staring into the mouth of the beast that taunted her. It mixed with the river of her home, and the cries of her companions were her own. She had let her own son die. Now her best friend would die because she was afraid, because the beast had won and held her tightly in its grip. A wave crashed around her ankles, shoving her backward onto the rocky sand.

From somewhere behind her, an anguished shout rippled through the storm, slashing its way through the rain to her ears. "Laura! No!"

The beast would not win.

Eolande threw herself into the waves, childhood memories of swimming returning to her instinctively to propel herself forward. But the beast tore at her clothes, dragging her down beneath the waves. She fought it and dove forward, spotting in the distance the head and hand of her friend, hair visible in the flash of lightning. [i]closer, closer![/I] The river tore at her bags, drowning her head beneath the waves, tearing at her cloak and weighing her down. She shoved her head above the water, water blending her vision and making it near impossible to tell the real from the crashing of the river as it flooded forward. Frantically she pushed her bags away from her body and pushed herself forward, arms and legs flailing as she tried to make headway in Laura's direction, where she prayed her dearest friend might be.

Another tide swirled and yanked her underwater, deeper than before and pulling her farther down into the deep abyss that now held a fate to Eolande - worse than hell. Suddenly her limp, exhausted hand brushed against fabric and she clenched her fingers tightly, feeling the embroidery around Laura's sleeve. Floods of relief gave her knew strength and she surged towards to surface, where no light seemed to exist, only in flashes. They emerged, both coughing and Eolande shoved the woman towards the nearest riverside, dragging her own weakened body forwards as well, their hands held tightly together for support - physically, mentally, emotionally. They were alive.

Suddenly a huge swell surged and tore at Eolande's clothes with a pressure of the gods, and her fingers were yanked from Laura's grasp. Gasping she took a breath as the water pulled her under, and watery fingers gripped her ankles, dragging her deeper into the water. It blended around her, reflections of lightning mere dreams of the surface, the crashing of thunder softened by the dull quiet of the belly of the beast.

Kicking out she struggled against the current that held her prisoner beneath the waves, racing her downstream with unimaginable speed. The air in her lungs bubbled out in small bursts, and her chest burned with struggle to keep the lifegiver within her body. [i]Please...please![/I] She screamed, her mouth opening in soundless shrieks of terror and despair. Reaching desperately, she felt her fingertips break the raging surface one last time, before the beast clawed her body and yanked her down beneath the typhoon waves. Her weakening limbs jumped to do the bidding of her mind, paddling against the roaring beast, but slowly their power fell to nothing, meaning nothing, doing nothing.

[i]Not this way, please, not this way![/I] Her mind fought back against the inevitable, searching the racing currents above her for light. There was none.

She sank beneath the waves into the depths of the river, the raging, pitiless beast, her limp body bouncing along the beachy bottom.

Undaunted by her cries, the tides swirled around her, and raced on.

[Edited by CandlestickJay on Saturday, June 23, 2007 10:00 PM]

06/30/2007 9:58 AM

Barclay reached the bottom of the cliff and ran across the beach, taking in his surroundings as he went. As Jessop had noticed from the clifftop, the beach was less rocky to their left. The storm showed no sign of abating, and there was no way that he would be able to swim out to the boat. The only option was to pull the boat onto the beach. Barclay waded into the water alongside Tarquin and Jessop and grabbed onto the rope. He attempted to gain a steady footing, but his right foot found nothing but water and he lost his balance.

For a moment, Barclay was completely submerged. His legs flailed uselessly in the water as his hands clung desperately to the rope. Mustering his willpower, Barclay opened his eyes and looked around. By the little moonlight that penetrated the stormy water, Barclay could make out the figures of the other two men and he swung his legs around to hit the solid ground beneath them. With all his strength, he pushed his head above the surface and steadied himself against the current and waves.

07/01/2007 7:53 AM

Emerging onto the stormy clifftop Aida had been pushed back a step, the breath momentarily torn from her throat by the wind's strength, eyes stung and watering, dark hair whipping around he face violently.

Following Tarquin's lead she made her way cautiously down the cliff edge, grasping at strongly-rooted plants and embedded rocks to steady herself, her progress slower than all three of the Daggervales.

Reaching the scree-laden beach finally she staggered over to where Jessop and Tarquin stood with Barclay, the three heaving seemingly futilely at the boat. She darted forward in fear as Barclay slipped and submerged in the choppy water, but he had emerged once more, and was standing, by the time she reached him. Placing a hand on his shoulder to see that he was alright she was reassured that he seemed undazed, and that no head wound was visible.

More worrying was the fact that the desperate efforts of the men seemed to be doing little to draw the small boat any closer. Looking at the rope, and then out to the still-floundering boat she realised her strength would do little to aid the men in pulling it in, but perhaps extra weight and an extra arm rowing would help steady the boat. Laura and Eolande must have had the same thought, as they had been ahead of her going down the cliff but were absent from the shore.

Putting her pack on the beach, removing her shawl and boots, and the heavy skirt she wore over her breeches for fear of getting entangled, she moved back to the waters edge, sharp pebbles digging into her bare feet. Touching Tarquin lightly on the arm she pointed to the boat to show her intention, pausing briefly to tie her hair back with a cord of leather before walking slowly further into the water, using the rope as a guideline.

The dark waves quickly rose higher, and she threw herself forward, kicking strongly with her legs. The roiling water quickly stole the strength from her, grasping at her to pull her under. Gritting her teeth she clung two-handed to the rope, not wasting her remaining energy fighting the swell, waiting until it passed. When she felt a let up in the pull she surfaced, gasping and spitting saltwater. Committing herself to the belief that the boat [i]was[/i] drawing nearer, painstakingly she pulled herself along, her palms torn by being pulled against the coarse fibres, kicking when the currents would allow, the roar of the waves terrifying.

After what seemed an age she felt the rope rise to meet the prow of the small craft. Breathlessly waving for Rhys to continue rowing- the boat was almost bouncing on the waves, and she was terrified that if he moved he could be pitched overboard- she pulled herself laboriously over the side, and lay breathing in the bottom for a moment.

Pulling herself onto a bench she took up a pair of oars, peering into the dark water. "Where are Laura and Eolande?" she shouted to make herself heard above the crashing water, a sinking feeling in her stomach, hoping they had merely been forced back to shore.

07/02/2007 1:00 PM

Pulling herself onto a bench she took up a pair of oars, peering into the dark water. "Where are Laura and Eolande?" she shouted to make herself heard above the crashing water,

Rhys responded with a perplexed expression upon his reddened and perspiring face. He was expecting to hear questions of where Darith had gotten to, something of which he hadn't particularly been looking forward to answering. Instead the question which Aida had asked threw him completely.

"What do you mean? Aren't they supposed to be with you?" he replied, shaking his head in confusion.


Doubt began to set into the minds of the three near exhausted men. It seemed like all their valiant efforts, blistering hands and aching muscles had been in vain. Heaving together in unison they suddenly found themselves reeling in some slack as the boat began to make slow but steady progress towards them. It seemed that a second pair of ores was making all the difference!

Finally the exhausted trio collapsed in a heap onto the beach as at last the boat ran ashore. Tarquin was laying spread-eagled in the rough shingles breathing heavily after giving his all. The younger, fitter brother Jessop quickly picked himself up and stared into the the boat.

"Where are Laura and Eolande?" he asked Rhys and Aida, a deeply concerned expression growing rapidly on his handsome face. Sweeping his sodden dark hair from his eyes he glanced worriedly out to sea, and then left and right across the beach.

"There!" he cried, rushing off to his right where what appeared to be a dark figure could be seen washed up on the shore. Breaking into a full sprint he quickly reached the side of the pale, motionless figure of Laura.

"Aida! Come quickly!" he cried.

07/06/2007 8:58 AM

{OOC: apologies but I'll have to bunny Jessop a little, or this'll take forever, lol]

Aida hadn't had the strength to answer Rhys on the boat, as she focused all her energy on rowing, trying to inch closer to the shore. She didn't even have the chance to worry about them, apart from a vague feeling of fear in the pit of her stomach, having to concentrate instead on keeping her seat in the erratically-tossed craft.

So intent was she on the task that she was shocked from her perch as they ran ashore, unaware that they had drawn so close.

On her knees in the bottom of the boat she was only vaguely aware of Jessop talking to her, the rushing of blood and thumping of her heart pounding loudly in her ears from the exertion.

The panic in his voice as he called for her startled her, and she fell to the sand as she scrambled out, sand clinging to her sodden clothes. Stumbling along the shore her heart was still hammering as she reached Jessop, crouched beside Laura.

07/06/2007 8:58 AM

Rolling her gently onto her back Aida went to her knees and placed a finger on the woman's throat, and an ear to her chest. Frowning, she stilled her own breathing, trying to listen above the noise of the wind and the waves.

"She has water in her lungs- we can't do anything until it's out."

Gently moving Laura's head to the side she knelt astride her hips, placing the heel of her hand on the woman's abdomen. Pushing down sharply she watched Laura's mouth, her own lips drawing tight at the thin stream of water that trickled from the Daggervale's lips. Shifting slightly to draw her heels nearer her body, she took a deep breath and held it, before pushing down once more, with greater pressure this time.
This time the water was almost a gush, and she nodded to herself before repeating the movement once more. She leaned over again, ear to Laura's chest.

"That's as much as I can get out- but now there's room to get air into her lungs. Once she starts breathing again she'll cough the rest out".

As she spoke she moved so that she was kneeling beside Laura again.

07/06/2007 8:59 AM

"Put your hands here", speaking to Jessop she placed her hands on Laura's chest, "and when I tell you press down- not too hard or you'll crack a rib, but it must be hard enough to get her breathing".
Leaning over once more she inhaled deeply before placing her mouth on Laura's, breathing into it.
"Now, Jessop, nice and steady".
She placed one hand over Jessop's, tapping to indicate the rhythm, and held her head just over Laura's.
"Stop now, for a moment".
Watching Laura's chest for signs of breathing she tried to keep her face as calm as her voice had been, not wanting to worry Jessop any further than necessary.
Wanting to appear positive she called over to the others on the beach.
"See if you can find somewhere dry to light a fire- she'll need to be warmed once she comes around".

[i]Which she will, she must.[/i]

07/06/2007 9:00 AM

She gave breath once more to Laura, who still lay pale and unmoving, motioning for Jessop to apply pressure again. Twice more they repeated the process, Aida pushing air into Laura's lungs, Jessop pressing down on her chest. Finally, with a great racking cough Laura spat the remnants of the saltwater from her lungs violently, before lying back on the sand: not lucid, chest raising in shuddering gasps, but breathing on her own. The relief that flooded through her made Aida dizzy, and she could see her own reaction magnified countless-fold in Jessop's pale face.

Squeezing his shoulder she rose to her feet, reeling slightly.
"We have to get her dry, away from this wind. I have some brandy- it'll help warm her through, and lessen her shock".

{OOC: sorry for the way the posts are- connection's odd and will only let me upload short posts for some reason}

07/10/2007 9:19 AM

With the boat now secured on the beach, the other party members had gathered around looking over Laura with grave concern.

Tarquin removed his cloak and stepped forward to wrapped it around her as she gradually began to regain consciousness.

"Eolande!" she gasped, flailing her arms around and flinging the cloak away.

Her words prompted the brothers to spring into action. Leaving Laura to the further care of Aida and Barclay, Jessop sent Tarquin and Rhys off in opposite directions to scour the edge of the beach in search of their missing companion. Jessop himself ran back into the sea and waded back out amongst the crashing waves.

The cries of the three men echoing from different directions quickly faded, drowned out by the roaring sea.

It was several long minutes before, one by one, the three men returned, each with the heads down looking visibly defeated.

"It is no use, I fear the sea has taken poor Eolande from us," announced Tarquin solemnly. He voice was hushed as to not alert Laura who appeared to be sleeping.

Looking down at the now frail figure of his beloved sister, it was apparent that Tarquin was deeply concerned for her health. As their leader he would take the full burden of responsibility for the loss of Eolande and any harm which may befall Laura. Despite this he knew they could not possibly abandon their mission to save the village. Just as he held the responsibility for the safety of his companions - the responsibility for the well being of their village rested equally on his shoulders.

It seemed like very little had gone to plan so far - but still at this most tragic of moments the mission still looked achievable. Indeed some difficult decisions would to have to be made, but he must remain strong and focused on his goal if they had any hope left of saving the village.

"Rhys, Jessop, stay here and watch over the boat," he ordered, "Barclay, help me get Laura off the beach and into the cover of the cliffs - Aida, come with us."

Still wrapped in Tarquin's black travelling cloak, the two men easily lifted the slender figure of Laura Daggervale and carried her over to a recess in the cliff side which resembled a shallow cave.

"Here," said Tarquin to Barclay setting her down gently on the ground. "This should be shelter enough. Build a fire and keep her warm this night. When she is fit to travel make your way back to the village and speak nothing of what has happened to anyone. Return to your homes and tell people that we send you back to escort Laura who fell ill....

I'm sorry but if we are to make it to the island in this terrible storm before dawn then we must set off immediately. I thank you for everything you have done but must bid you farewell now."

Tarquin hesitated momentarily before finally turning away from the cave and disappear off into the darkness.

07/13/2007 6:11 AM

Aida was somewhat stunned as she sat in the cave.

The need to get to the island, to try to save the village, was clear, as was equally the need for Laura to rest and recover: but Tarquin's brusque determination seemed blunt.
He was not unaffected by the same shock as she, she supposed.

They had all been aware of the peril when they left- at least on a superficial level- but to have encountered such drama, such disaster, so soon seemed nearly portentous. She could understand the Daggervales' need to push on, the responsibility they felt to the village, but could not help but worry about how the three of them would fare in the small boat on such stormy waters, and wish that they had the luxury of waiting even a few short hours to let the weather pass.

Her mind refused to dwell on Eolande, fleeting images of the woman's tragedy-scarred face coming unbidden, to be pushed away with grim resolve. Her concern right now must be with Laura. She was sleeping easier now, a little colour coaxed to her cheeks by the shelter of the cave.

07/13/2007 6:11 AM

"If you could gather some brush of driftwood for a fire I will tend to Laura-" tiredness strained her voice as she spoke to Barclay, "-the sooner she is warm and rested the sooner we can return to the village".

Aida rummaged through her pack, drawing out a dark tin that smelled strongly of camphor, then arranging Tarquin's heavy cloak to completely cover the sleeping woman. Reaching underneath she quickly removed Laura's wet garments, placing them in a corner, and rubbed the damp from the woman's skin before beginning to gently massage the thick ointment from the tin onto her limbs.

[i]Her muscles at least will be warmed while we wait for the fire, and hopefully any aches she will feel tomorrow lessened[/i]

Satisfied that the ointment had done all that is could she wiped her hands on her damp breeches, managing to find a patch not covered in sand, and took a small brown bottle from her pack. Tilting Laura's head back she placed a few drops of the brandy on her lips, the woman muttering softly at the disturbance, but swallowing the alcohol before returning to her rest.

07/13/2007 8:56 AM

[i] This is lovely, [/i] Saysen grumbled to himself as the rain pounded against his skin and trickled down the back of his drenched vest, slithering down his already freezing spine. The storm had come up abruptly and wicked strong, shrouding the road to Elmswhistle in an opaque cloak of swirling water; Saysen could barely see two feet in front of him. His corse hair was plastered to his forehead and neck, playing a distracting game of seeing how much of his vision it could obscure at one time. Saysen imagined he looked like a half-drowned horse, long nose protruding from a thicket of dripping mane--he felt fully drowned.

The rain continued to beat a tattoo in the mud, the noise was reaching new levels of deafening, and Saysen's brain was desperatly trying to convince his feet that they needed to find a nice, dry place and curl up and sleep for about a week. But his feet knew better. If he kept trudging, he would be in sight of Elmswhistle in the morning, that much closer. He was on a mission.

Saysen stopped in front of a deep trench that the rain had carved in the road, rushing with a foot of muddy water. He raised his weathered face to the sky, watching the silvery needles of water dash to prick at his face. Faintly, so faint that he wasn't sure if it was real or in his head, he heard crashing waves against a distant beach--angry water gods raging a battle against the rocks. For a moment, Saysen's heart clenched in urgency and fright, then in the next breath the rain had washed away even the sound of the waves.

Saysen shook the water out of his shaggy hair in the style of a wet dog, which did him absolutly no good, but Saysen didn't mind. He may be bearing a heavy message, but no message nor rain could keep him from smiling. He stuck one long foot in the muddy water before him and kept his path--Saysen was going home.

07/13/2007 2:49 PM

Barclay stepped out onto the beach again, putting his arm up in front of his face for a moment as a gust of wind carried the rain level to the ground. As the gust died down, Barclay returned to ignoring the rain. He was already soaked through and shivering, but he knew the best way to deal with the problem would be to retrieve some wood and build a fire.

At first, Barclay had doubted he would find any firewood. The beach was mostly barren, and there were no trees short of the top of the cliff. As he scanned the area, however, he spotted a fallen tree further up the beach, lying with its severed trunk against the cliffside. He quickly jogged over toward it and, taking a hatchet out of his rucksack, began to hack off branches to use as tinder. Though he was moving with a sense of urgency, he tried to make sure most of the branches he took were relatively dry. After a few minutes, he set the hatchet aside and gathered an armload of the branches. They weren't much good as firewood, he thought as he carried them back, but they would do as tinder. He could return after getting the fire started and get some more substantial wood from the trunk of the tree.

Returning to the cave, he dropped the load of tinder just far enough in to avoid the rain and knelt down beside it. Reaching again into the rucksack, he retrieved a piece of flint and of steel, and set about starting a fire.

07/14/2007 7:18 AM


" 'Ay, you! Who taught you to tie a hitch? Me mother ties a better hitch than that! Outta my way, before you put us all under!"

Cries such as these found their way across the deck of the L.D.S. (Loyal Denzibarian Ship) Windbreaker [OOC: Flark, I made that up, because I didn't know what the ship should be called. If you have a correction, please let me know.], but failed to pierce the howl of the storm. The cries of the men on board could be heard on the ship, and only on the ship.

" 'Oy, Cap'n! Dory adrift, port-side!"

Captain Rus Helmfast looked toward the bow of the ship, where the call came from, and nodded to confirm that he got the message. Striding over to the port-side rail, he looked out into the waters.

The small boat was empty, and bobbing wildly in the swells created by the storm. He couldn't see a reason to risk his crew or equipment in retrieving it, so he let it drift by as he scanned the seas.

Boats don't just float by randomly, even in storms such as this one. He was looking for the fool who had tried to take the boat somewhere in the storm.

After about 3 minutes of searching, he saw the poor soul thrashing around in the water.

"MAN OVERBOARD!" He yelled. "Jork, looks like a landlubber floundering! Helmsman, bring her port-side! You!" he exclaimed with a flourish of his hand, "Throw out a line!"

Turning back to the helmsman, he yelled, "Steady that yaw!"

The bosun, one of the best hands on his crew, tied a quick knot so there was a loop at the end of the line, and tossed it out, actually hitting the man in the water on the head. The accuracy of his throw was incredible, considering the conditions.

"All hands not steadying the ship, on the rope!"

This, of course, meant only three people, and they quickly heaved him in. The Captain himself came down onto the poop deck, and reached over the edge of the rail to bring up the man, one handed.

Holding the man up, the Captain could see that he was exhausted by his experience. He was small compared to the Captain, who was a massive man by all standards, whose generous bulk was comprised mostly of muscle from his hard work at sea.

The man he was holding looked like he was about to pass out, so he put him on the ground, and said to the nearest crewmember, "Stick 'im in the hold, and git back out here."

He then turned around, looking aftward. "Bring us in to calm waters, Helmsman!"

He then turned back around. "Give me half trysail! Batten everything else down...this is where it gets difficult!"

He looked to the fore of the boat just in time to see the man give him a strange look just before disappearing with the crew member into the hold.

07/18/2007 9:33 AM

Once Barclay had sparked the tinder Aida eased Laura nearer to the fire, waiting till the damp was gone from her skin before redressing her with dry clothes from her pack.

That done, she seemed to be sleeping more easily, some of the tension gone out of her face, her breathing deep and even, so Aida was able to relax a little, hunching near to the flames to dry herself off and get the deep cold of the water out of her bones.

She took the flask of brandy up again and took a good mouthful, eyes closing briefly as it instantly spread warmth through her chest. Passing the flask to Barclay she unlaced her boots and pulled off her thick stockings, setting them out on a stone beside the fire to dry, then warming her toes in the heated sand next to the crackling flames.

Arms hugged around her knees, she lay her head down to rest on them, staring into the burning wood at the heart of the fire. It had taken them nearly a day to walk this far: would Laura have the strength for it tomorrow? Depending on how she recovered they might have to break up the journey- and for Aida, at least, the loss of Eolande and what felt like failure at having to turn back, would make the journey stretch and drag even more.

How hard must it have been for the three brothers to leave their sister, not knowing how she fared after her trauma, save that she lived. Their sense of duty to Elmswhistle must be strong indeed- and now she would have to return to the people they were trying to save, not being able to breath a word of the sacrifices the Daggervales were making.

"Will they manage on their own, do you think?" her voice was very quiet. "Just three seems so few..."

07/18/2007 2:08 PM

He looked to the fore of the boat just in time to see the man give him a strange look just before disappearing with the crew member into the hold.

"What's going on up there!" snapped the Viscount. "Ahh, what have we here?" he said, changing his tone to one of curiousness.

"He's a fisherman from Elmswhislte I expect My Lord," said the crewman. "His boat capsized in the storm and he was lucky that we plucked him out of the water when we did for he was drifting out to sea."

The half-drowned fisherman remained silent in his bedraggled state.

"Good work crewman, you can leave him with us now and get back to your duty," ordered the Viscount.

"Yes My Lord," replied the crewman scurrying off back up to the deck.

"Corporal Shillingsworth! Have your men secure this fellow. He's obviously a drunkard and we wouldn't want to take the chance of him wandering off and falling overboard again."

The Viscount smirked callously and then headed up onto the deck leaving the burly Corporal and his men to deal with the unfortunate Darith.

Viscount Rhule Parmishroud skulked about the deck in the pouring rain with his hands behind his back. The day was coming to an end and gradually the gray skies were beginning to turn black. There was no real reason for him to be above deck, he knew nothing about sailing and was pay little attention to their current whereabouts. The only real reason the Viscount was enduring the harsh weather above deck was because of his desire to be in control. There was no denying that taking passage with the Windbreaker had saved them many days of travel, and that their early arrival in Elmswhistle would be most useful, but Rhule had hated every moment about the ship having to lay low to the super efficient Captain Helmsfast.

With rain pouring from the end of his hooked nose and his dark but graying receded hair dripping wet, Rhule stopped to watch the Captain barking some more orders. Even he had to admit the crew were doing an excellent job of controlling a large ship in stormy conditions, along a river which wasn't exactly the widest. Although he didn't like the Captain, he had to admit the man did a fine job of utilising his small crew who held him in the greatest of regards, even if that was a fact which he would never admit.

"Captain Helmfast," he called out as he moved towards the man. "If we are still on schedule to disembark for Elmswhistle tomorrow morn then I shall be retiring to my quarters for now. My men and I have an important task ahead of us and would be all the better for a decent night's sleep. If you have any need of consultation don't hesitate to wake me."

07/22/2007 12:21 PM

Captain Helmfast watched as the Viscount walked back below deck.

[i]Good riddance,[/i] he thought.

If there was one thing he couldn't stand, it was political and bureaucratic bullshit.

Having the Viscount and his aide on board had been one of the most frustrating things he has had to deal with in his career. They knew nothing of seamanship, couldn't tell a double half-hitch from a clove hitch, and put on airs of controlling the ship.

But soon that wouldn't matter. They'd be dropping them off at Elmswhistle, and clearing out. He didn't know what other unfortunate ship had been ordered to pick them up, or when, but he was glad that it wasn't his.

Of course, with this storm, they might not make it to Elmswhistle until morrow's morrow. Which was unfortunate, for that meant one day more with the Viscount, as well as innumerable hours of listening to the man's incessant need to bicker and complain.

Glancing around, he saw that they were almost to calm waters, where they could throw anchor.

"Steady goes, Helmsman," he said unnecessarily.

"Aye aye, Cap'n," he replied, fully understanding the Captain's frustration at the situation.

07/23/2007 2:20 AM

Barclay sat a few minutes by the fire, warming himself and allowing his mind to wander from the task still before him. The Daggervale brothers were now out in that storm on their own, on a quest which seemed madder by the second. They were out there without the help that Tarquin had seemed so glad to have the night before. At best, they wouldn't have enough hands and legs to carry whatever they may find, but Barclay didn't think about the best scenario. In his mind, he pictured Tarquin rushing forward into some unforeseen danger, Jessop too uncertain and Rhys too foolish to stop him. He saw them trapped by ghosts or demons or crumbling ruins, succumbing to injury or sickness or to some crueler fate.

"Will they manage on their own, do you think?" her voice was very quiet. "Just three seems so few..."

Barclay could muster little more than a quiet grunt in reply. Sitting here worrying would do them no good. He put his feet beneath him and stood up. The fire would need more wood to last through the night, and he said as much before stepping back out into the rain.

When he reached the fallen tree once again, he immediately picked up the hatchet and got to work. Cutting a piece small enough to carry back with such a small tool was difficult, but the work lifted his spirits a bit and he soon had cut a log small enough to carry. Putting the hatchet in the neck of his shirt, the only place available with his rucksack left in the cave, he lifted the log and began to carry it back.

As he walked, it occurred to Barclay that he may never see Tarquin again. They had been friends most of their lives, and Barclay had just let Tarquin go out into that storm without a word. A dull pain filled his chest, and his gut felt empty. His vision blurred and, as he returned to the small cave and set down the log, he wiped tears from his eyes. He didn't want to think about it. He pulled the hatchet out of his shirt and began splitting pieces from the log and tossing them onto the fire, but the tears returned to his eyes. He set down the hatchet and stared into the fire through his tears.

"Why did we let them go?" he asked.

07/24/2007 9:37 AM

"Why did we let them go?" he asked.

She looked up, hearing the emotion strangling his voice. Was it sorrow or guilt?
If is feelings at all mirrored her own then it was both.

"I don't know", her voice was soft still, little more than an agonised whisper.
"I... we didn't really have a choice- it all happened so fast..."
She reached out a hand to smooth Laura's brow, simultaneously checking that she ran no fever.

Aida was quiet for a short while, staring into the darkness beyond their small shelter.

"If Darith... maybe we will find him back at the village". She knew, even though she spoke the words, that it was a slim hope: likely the weather had proven too vicious for a single fisherman, experienced and skilled though he may be.
"We could... do you think- maybe, if he made it back, could we make the journey, the three of us? Catch up to them- even just meet them on their way back..." Her voice was musing, more an unconscious voicing of a tendril of thought than an actual question.

She trailed into silence, her gaze dropping from the darkness to the fire once more as she absently chewed at her lip. They had yet to see how Laura would fare, and then must undertake their own journey back to the village, regardless of Darith's fate. There was little point in planning and hoping, at least until they reached Elmswhistle: and even then, assuming that they met no further mishaps, neither she nor Barclay were skilled with a boat- if the fisherman had not survived there would be little they could do, even if the weather improved.

A huge yawn seized her by surprise, but she managed to cover the end of it with her hand.

"I must sleep. This place is desolate enough, I think- I doubt we will need to keep watch, but if you think it prudent then I will be happy to do my turn. If we leave as soon as Laura's strength returns we will have a long day before us".

She stood stiffly, the exertions of the night already making themselves felt. She edged Laura back gently from the fire, re-tucking the blankets around her, and comforted by the gentle sigh that escaped the woman's lips.

Taking her own bedding from her pack she set it down near to the sleeping Daggervale and lay down tiredly, her limbs feeling immediately heavy, and sleep quickly overtaking her.

07/24/2007 1:29 PM

[b]Of course, m' lord.[/b]

Armand replied back crisply to the Viscount as he went to the man. He had been given orders to accompany the Viscount to Elmwhistle, and his priority was his protection. Not his favorite of assignments, but he knew that an order was an order, and that it was for the best, and he would certainly never show the slightest bit of distaste at an order. It was bad for morale, and worse for his family name...

The man was shivering from being wet, and had yet to fully regain his consciousness, but did not appear to be drunk in Armand's eyes. He knelt down next to the man, but as he did whatever consciousness he had conjured up slipped from him as Armand stretched out his arms to catch him from hitting his head on the wooden floors...

[b]Fetch me a blanket and cloth and warm some water, then bring it to my quarters...[/b]

He said to one of his men that had gathered to help. From his knelt position, Armand gathered the man up into his arms with ease, carrying him back to his quarters. They weren't the best of accommodations, but more than satisfactory for the humble man. He set Darith upon his bed, and removed his sword, bow, and quiver, hanging them next to the bed. He turned 'round, receiving the blanket with a nod from the soldier that had followed him in as he covered Darith with it...

He sat the bowl of water on the table beside his bed, and dipped the cloth into it, wringing it out above the bowl before placing it on the man's forehead. He reached into a nearby drawer and grabbed a flask of ale, sitting it onto the table next to him. He turned and motioned for the soldier to follow as they left the room...

[b]Phillip, stand guard at this door and keep watch on the man. Whatever he needs fetch it, but when he awakes I want to know who he is and where he came from. Most importantly we need to know if there is anyone else out that. That will be all...[/b]

He said as he turned to walk back to the top of the ship, Phillip taking position outside the room, though he left the door open to keep a better eye on him. Armand wasn't worried so much about the man doing any harm as he was him making it, and more so about anyone left out to fend for himself in these treacherous waters. He continued up towards the top of the ship, intent on finding the Viscount and reporting on the unfortunate man...

07/24/2007 2:58 PM

[i](The Twenty-Fifth day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]

(Day three)

Viscount Rhule Parmishroud was awoken at the crack of dawn by one of Captain Helmfast's sailors knocking upon the door to his quarters. The sailor, a scrawny goatee bearded man informed him that the ship had made reasonable progress before they had dropped anchor for the night. From this point following the river any further would be taking them away from Elmswhistle and towards the Great Lake and the distant town of Dennison.

Rhule nodded his understanding. He instructed the sailor to leave his soldiers sleeping for now and then dismissed the man. An early start was not quite so important as making sure he kept one step ahead of the men under his command. From day one he'd enjoyed keeping them guessing and made a point of feeding them with as little information about the task in hand as possible. In his mind this not only kept his men sharp, but it also enforced his authority over them. Knowledge was power, and his power over them earned him their respect. The small fact he was matching their regular army wage again out of his own pocket made certain of that fact. Appearances were everything in Wexdale, and in order to ensure a healthy amount of volunteers for his assignment, as well as to maintain their discipline - it was a small price to pay.

Splashing his face with cold water the Viscount took the time to plaster down his graying, dark, receding hair and carefully shave his very angular face. He dressed himself in a regal looking purple tunic and a black and gold embroidered surcoat, and fitted a ceremonial sheathed dirk to a thick leather belt around his waist.

* * * *

"Corporal Shillingsworth!" he called, rapping on the door of the storeroom where the Corporal had made his quarters. "Have the men packed and ready to leave in fifteen minutes! This morning we leave the ship and march on Elmswhistle! Bring the man we picked up out of the river too!"

The Viscount turned away and headed towards the upper deck where Captain Helmsfast would no doubt still be found at the helm. He suspected the Captain would be as glad to have rid of his unwanted passengers as Rhule was to see the back of him.

As he casually strode away from the Corporal's door, the sound of shuffling feet could be heard all around from the cargo holds where the soldiers had made their bunks. They had no doubt heard him and would be glad to finally have the opportunity to stretch their legs and be back in the open air again, however bad the weather.

07/24/2007 11:27 PM

Armand awoke at the first rap, having never been fully asleep at all, more resting his eyes than anything. He arose from his position sitting against a box and quickly re-strapped his weapons to his person. In under a minute he was in his men's quarters, issuing orders...

[b]Alright men, you heard the Viscount, but I want ten minutes. you and I both know you can do it. Two men get our unfortunate guest and his things and have him ready to leave on my command, awake or not...[/b]

As he departed the their quarters he left the lower decks of the ship and arrived on deck, finding the Viscount as he approached him...

[b]My men will be ready to move in ten minutes sir, but the man we fished out of the water has yet to regain consciousness. We may need to seek assistance when we arrive at Elmswhistle, and if we haven't the time then I must insist that time be made. I realize that my orders are your protection and safe being, but my duty calls to this man...[/b]

He finished with more of a pause than an ending, waiting to gauge the Viscount's reaction before continuing. He knew that he was being paid well for this mission, but money was of no importance to him. Saving lives, however, was, and he hoped that this life could be saved without having to resort to an argument...

07/25/2007 8:19 AM

Laura Daggervale opened her eyes to see a beautiful red sunrise on the horizon looking out to sea. She was wrapped up snugly in a warm blanket in front of a dying bed of hot embers that she couldn't help but lay there for a moment enjoying the calm.

Suddenly memories of last night came flooding into her conscious mind as if remembering some horrific nightmare.

"Eolande!" she cried out, tossing the makeshift blanket into the air and springing up onto her feet.

Barclay and Aida who had been sleeping peacefully at either side of the now frantic young woman opened their eyes with startled expressions.

"Aida, Barclay, what happened!??.. Where is everyone??"

07/25/2007 10:03 AM

[b]My men will be ready to move in ten minutes sir, but the man we fished out of the water has yet to regain consciousness. We may need to seek assistance when we arrive at Elmswhistle, and if we haven't the time then I must insist that time be made. I realize that my orders are your protection and safe being, but my duty calls to this man...[/b]

This Viscount rolled his eyes and sighed impatiently.

"Captain Helmsfast, I will have to leave that fool of a fisherman whom we rescued in your care. See to it that he remains securely below deck until my return. He has some questions he needs to answer before I can grant his release."

A sly grin returned to the Viscount's face as he turned to face the ship's Captain and sneered. "Oh, sorry, did I fail to mention the King granted me the unhindered use of the Windbreaker and it's crew until my assignment here is completed?" He tossed a scroll embossed with King Wilhelm's Royal Seal in the direction of the Captain.

"Corporal Shillingsworth, get those men moving! Have them off the ship in five minutes and formed up into squad formation ready for my inspection."

At that the Viscount made his way down the gangway and onto the southern edge of the riverbank.

Thankfully the weather this morning was much calmer with very little breeze, although dark clouds still loomed overhead giving the telltale signs that more rain was not far away.

07/25/2007 4:23 PM

"Aida, Barclay, what happened!??.. Where is everyone??"

Laura's cry had roused Aida from an uneasy sleep, bringing her to her feet with a racing heart.

One hand on her pounding chest she moved towards the Daggervale.

"Laura, sit- you mustn't strain yourself! We nearly-" she bit off her words, placing her hands on the woman's forearms and trying to ease her gently to the ground. "Please, sit. Otherwise I will worry too much".

Satisfied that her words seemed to have been heard she glanced quickly at Barclay before continuing.

"I don't know ho much you remember about last night... the storm seized you, it was so dark we didn't know. After we had finally gotten the boat in we found you".

She chewed at her lip again, not sure of how much she wanted to tell. She doubted that the strong-willed young woman would be pleased to have been left behind by her brothers, and did not want to add to theshock she must have suffered in the water by telling her that they did not know what had become of Eolande or Darith.

Seeing her eyes she knew truth to be the better option. Laura would not want to be cosseted.

"Your brothers- all three, for we brought Rhys ashore- continued. Tarquin knew that they must, for the sake of the village".
The words came out almost at a rush, but then her voice became soft.
"Eolande... Laura, my heart bids me not to tell you, but... we do not know what has become of Eolande. We could not find her in the night. If the water has taken her perhaps she was carried downstream, and that was why we could not find her- we have the same hope for Darith. Tarquin asked that we return to the village- if we travel by the coast perhaps we may find her..."

It was less than a slim hope, less even than that of finding Darith returned to the village, but she could not bring herself to deny even that small hope to Laura- or herself. Perhaps it was a false comfort, and she did ill by believing it, but for the moment she preferred it to dwelling on what else might be.

07/26/2007 7:15 AM

[Edited out...will be replaced in correct chronological order once Tamachi has made his post.]

[Edited by Max on Thursday, July 26, 2007 4:42 PM]

07/26/2007 12:29 PM

"Eolande... Laura, my heart bids me not to tell you, but... we do not know what has become of Eolande. We could not find her in the night. If the water has taken her perhaps she was carried downstream, and that was why we could not find her- we have the same hope for Darith. Tarquin asked that we return to the village- if we travel by the coast perhaps we may find her..."

Laura stared wide eyed, shaking her head slightly as if refusing to believe the dreadful news she was being told.

"Did you look? Did you search for her!!?" she shrieked angrily.

Tears began to well up in Laura's eyes forcing her to turn away from Aida and Barclay. She slumped her body against the wall of the cave and slowly slid down onto her knees in the corner where she began to sob.

"It was my fault... Eolande was swept while rescuing [b][i]me[/i][/b]... Now my brothers are all alone on that island and there isn't a thing we can do to help them."

Quickly regaining some resolve Laura picked herself up and took a couple of deep breaths which seemed to regain her some composure.

"I'm sorry Aida, you are right. We should return to the village via the long route of following the coast northwards and the river east. We should make our way back to the village and pray that my brothers return swiftly and safely with enough valuables to save us. In the meantime we should do our best to prepare everyone for the worst case scenario. I doubt it will be too long before an envoy from Wexdale shows up."

Laura slowly bent down to pick up Tarquin's cloak and gather the rest of her belongings.

07/26/2007 9:23 PM

[b]Yes sir![/b]

He said as he moved back below decks, away from the breeze that he had just began to enjoy. The Viscount's actions were a bit pompous, but then again, most of his stature in society were, so it was something that Armand chose merely to overlook, at least for the time being: he had orders to follow. He made his way to his men's quarters, overly satisfied that the lot of them was ready. He waited less than two minutes, a time he spent inspecting his men, before issuing his orders when the last of them was ready...

[b]Alright men, you'll be happy to know that we'll have dirt under our feet again... Dirt, that is, off this ship, so let's move out...[/b]

He said, the proper responses drowned out by the metal hitting the wooden floors of the ship. Armand was in front, and had soon led them off the ship and onto the riverbank, where the sighs of relief were heard over the beat of their steps...

[b]Form up! Squad formation!...[/b]

He said as his men followed his orders, and once they had done so he walked off towards the Viscount, making certain that nothing happened to him. He gave him his privacy in case he had wanted it, staying a little ways behind him before stopping to speak...

[b]Sir... My men are ready and awaiting your inspection...[/b]

He said to the Viscount, awaiting his reply, readying himself for any sly and otherwise demeaning remark that was sure to find it's way from the Viscount...

07/27/2007 6:55 AM

[b]Sir... My men are ready and awaiting your inspection...[/b]

Rhule stepped forwards and one by one he scanned his eyes over each of the statuesque soldiers. They were a small makeshift infantry squad of only six men, not including Corporal Shillingsworth who watched on from his standing position behind the Viscount. The squad had been banded together from volunteers from the 1st Denzabian Regiment of Royal Guards who were permanently stationed in Wexdale, a regiment in which Rhule himself had served as commanding officer in his younger years.

"Good," said the Viscount, "At ease men."

The soldiers could be seen to take a deep breath and visibly relax from their rigid stance to attention.

"Today we march on the village Elmswhistle under the jurisdiction of King Wilhelm III. We are here to make the arrest of Lord Sebastian Daggervale for the longstanding evasion of King's taxes. We will be reclaiming all of the Daggervale family's properties and assets to compensate for the loss of King's coffers.

I will be assuming charge of the village in an attempt to spare any of the good honest citizens from being forced from their homes. In the unfortunate event of this action being unavoidable you will be expected to oversee this regrettable action until reinforcements arrive from Wexdale to relieve us of our duties."

The Viscount Rhule Parmishroud paused to gauge the reaction of his small band of soldiers. He could tell they were a little surprise about what was being asked of them and their expressions were less than pleased about it. Denzibar was usually a very settled and peaceful Kingdom and an assignment like this was previously unheard of.

Regardless, in a Kingdom which was clearly in visible decline it do not come as too much of a shock that this kind of thing could be about to happen. Most of the soldiers still serving in the Denzabian Army were generally grateful to still be earning a regular wage since so many of the old regiments had already been disbanded. The lucky few here having their wages doubled by a rich nobleman were unlikely to do anything to put their job on the line.

"Unless any of you have any questions, it's time we got moving towards Elmswhistle. The village is less than a day's march from here."

07/27/2007 6:10 PM

Armand stood stoic and watched on as the Viscount scrutinized his men with the greatest eye for detail, and once the Viscount had given his approval, he let out a sigh or relief. Funny, he hadn't even realized that he had been holding his breath, but he did know that he was proud of his men, and inwardly harbored a confidence boost from the situation. He snapped back to reality as the Viscount continued, however, listening intently for more details about his assignment...

[i]Tax evasion... That didn't sound like Lord Daggervale...[/i]

He thought to himself as the Viscount went over there over, but neither he nor his men asked any questions, although there was no doubt most had the same thing on their mind. However, Armand had learned long ago that the higher powers knew what they were doing, at least most of the time, and could often times see the bigger picture, whereas Armand was oftentimes confined to the smaller picture of the battle field. Once again he snapped back to reality, commands coming from his mouth almost instinctively...

[b]You heard Viscount Parmishroud, now move out men. Two lines, I'll lead. Once we arrive in the city, keep things as civil as possible. I want [i]no[/i] civilian casualties, as the tensions will be high and tempers will flare...[/b]

'Yes sir!'

His men shouted as Armand shifted to speak to the Viscount...

[b]Sir, I must suggest that I lead, and you remain between my men and I. If any of the citizens know of your coming, then they surely will not be hospitable. Perhaps seeing a soldier leading will dissuade them from any brash actions...[/b]

He finished, his mind temporarily drifting off to what could happen. It was obvious that the people of Elmswhistle would not be welcoming their small band, at least not once they caught wind of their true intentions. Armand merely hoped that there would be no need for he or his men, evened prayed it so, but he knew all to well that his wishes would be hard ones to answer...

07/28/2007 7:59 AM

[OOC: I'll have to edit it to match the events that have transpired, but I don't have the time now. I didn't want it to get lost, or misplaced again, though. Nevertheless, you'll get a rough idea of what the Captains response to the Viscount is.]

[OOC - Tamachi, I realized that Corporal Shillingsworth and Captain Helmfast are two peas in a pod, as they say. I went to write my response to Flark's message, and realized that he would react in the exact same way that you wrote your post. *shakes fist* ;)]

Captain Helmfast was glad to have made good progress after the worst of the storm had passed, and was equally glad to have reached their destination the next day. He was looking forward to getting rid of the Viscount, and back to the open sea.

"Captain Helmsfast, I will have to leave that fool of a fisherman whom we rescued in your care. See to it that he remains securely below deck until my return. He has some questions he needs to answer before I can grant his release."

He was about to protest that he had orders elsewhere, when the Viscount continued.

"Oh, sorry, did I fail to mention the King granted me the unhindered use of the Windbreaker and it's crew until my assignment here is completed?" He tossed a scroll embossed with King Wilhelm's Royal Seal in the direction of the Captain.

Coldly snatching it out of the air, hardly reading the words as he stared at the royal seal. Sure enough, it was from the King.

Had any member of his crew given that tone of voice when speaking to him, the crew member would have been severely punished. As it was, he could do nothing against the Viscount. He seethed at the notion, but he could not act. He had his orders from the King, although what the King was thinking when he should have the Windbreaker patrolling the seas was beyond the Captain.

Looking up, he saw that the Viscount was already ashore.

"What are you all waiting for? Bring in the gang plank, hoist anchor! We're moving to deeper water!"

As the crew scrambled to do it, he moved to lower a sail himself, a sure sign to his crew that he was severely agitated.

"HELMSMAN!" he bellowed as he allowed the line to slip through his hands, "Bring us out!"

The sail billowed, he tied it down, and he could see that the other sails billowing as his crew worked.

07/29/2007 8:51 AM

[i](The Twenty-Sixth day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]

(Day four)

It was noon on the second day of parting with the Daggervale brothers when the company of Barclay Winter, Aida Trevalyan and Laura Daggervale arrived back at Elmswhistle. They had taken the unusually long route of following the coastline northwards then the river to the east, desperately hoping to find a sign of either Darith or Eloande. Finally and reluctantly they had to give up the search and make their way south towards the village.

Upon arrival nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Elmswhistle appearing to be it's usual quiet self, much as they left it.

The three renewed their pact to tell nothing of what had happened to the others. Their journey had been strictly 'Daggervale buisness' in Dennison and the only reason the three had returned early was because Laura had fallen sick, though be it nothing serious. At that, the three bid their farewells for the next couple of days. Each made their way back to their homes to reunite with their families and pick up life where they had left off just a few short days ago.

[Edited by Flark on Sunday, July 29, 2007 11:13 AM]

07/29/2007 9:12 AM

[i](The Twenty-Seventh day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]

(Day five)

Upon arrival at the Daggervale family estate Laura had been stunned to find Denzabian Soldiers barring her path. She was even more horrified to find out that her father had been placed under close arrest and that all of the Daggervale family's assets had been seized.

It wasn't until the interference of her father's old butler Gerrad that she finally made some progress with the stubborn guards and was eventually allowed access to see her sick father.

Upon the arrival of the Viscount Rhule Parmishroud, Laura was then also placed under close arrest and detained within the Daggervale family estate.

[Edited by Flark on Sunday, July 29, 2007 9:13 AM]

07/29/2007 9:28 AM

[i](The Twenty-Eighth day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]

(Day six)

After reuniting with their families it is not long before Aida Trevalyan and Barclay Winter both hear rumour of the occurrences at the Daggervale estate. The Viscount Rhule Parmishroud and his soldiers are frequently spotted around the village examining various properties and interviewing the employee's and friends the Daggervales.

In a bid to avoid interrogation and a last ditched attempt to give whatever assistance they can to the Daggervale brothers, the pair assemble a pair of mules and a cart and set off on a journey back to the western coast.

07/29/2007 9:50 AM

[i](The Twenty-Ninth day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]

(Day seven)

With the advantage of the mules and cart, Barclay and Aida make the direct journey to the coast in a single day of travel. The pair spend the night on the beech watching out to sea for signs of a boat crossing towards them. Thankfully the night is still and clear, and the sea calm. After several long hours of watch the pair celebrate the sighting of a small fishing boat heading out of the gloom.

Rushing to meet it the eventually outcome leaves them with very mixed emotions. They are greeted by a ghostly looking Tarquin who lay unconscious and wrapped in layers of blankets. Jessop and Rhys pronounce their findings to be none more than a giant sack bursting with gold and gemstones. Their findings are surely more than enough to save the village, but it seems the final price in retrieving it had been high indeed.

07/29/2007 10:31 AM

[i](The Last day of the month September, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]

(Day eight)

Exhausted from a lack of sleep, the reunited group slowly make their way back towards Elmswhistle with the comatosed Tarquin Daggervale and their captured treasure.

Barclay and Aida told the brothers of what had happened back at the village and of how Laura had been detained. In return Jessop and Rhys told the story of what had happened on the isle of Merrywinter.

They described the city of Halvault to be nothing more than a ruin which had obviously suffered a huge fire.

They told of how they had climbed into the crumbling Castle Keep of the formerly magnificent city. Despite the obvious danger Tarquin had refused to return empty handed and ventured deeper into the ruin until eventually a part of the building collapsed around him.

Fearing their elder brother was most certainly dead, Jessop and Rhys clambered into the ruin and found Tarquin had fell deep into the bowels of the Keep and lay injured deep underground. Despite his injuries Tarquin could not contain his excitement. In a combination of both exceptionally good and ill fortune Tarquin had found himself landed in deep underground treasure vault. He had refused to be lifted out with a rope until he had gathered as much riches as he could find. Eventually once they had recovered a huge sack of treasure Tarquin finally allowed himself to be pulled to the surface. His injuries had seemed fairly superficial at the time, nothing more than cuts, bruises and a badly sprained ankle, but as they made their way out of the city his health began to rapidly decline.

Aida described Tarquin's state now as being unconscious but stable, just as though he was sleeping. His skin felt cold and clammy to the touch, but his heartbeat was strong and steady.

Not wanting to enter Elmswhistle in a worse than exhausted state, the reunited companions made camp for the night just outside of the village. Whatever toils they must face in the morning, at least they would do so on the back of a good night's sleep.

07/29/2007 10:42 AM

[i](The First day of the month October, the year Ten-Seventy-Nine.)[/i]

(Day nine)

"Wake up! Wake up!" barked Jessop, flailing a boot towards a sleeping Rhys Daggervale.

It was still early morning and the sound of birds singing echoed through the trees all around them.

"Barclay, Aida, wake up!"

"What!" grumped Rhys slowly raising a groggy looking head up with dead leaves stuck in his hair, "What's up?"

"He's gone!" shrieked Jessop, spinning away to gather up his belongings. "Tarquin's gone!"

07/30/2007 10:10 PM

Armand had awoke at first light, the chirps of the birds overhead piercing through the crickets orchestra that played on the ground below them. He quickly latched his longsword to his side, leaving his helm and both shield and broadsword inside his tent as he exited its solace to enjoy the morning air and newly-rekindled sunlight. His men had set up camp outside the Daggervale Estate. It appeared as the perfect morning at the start, and nothing would have made him think otherwise until he made his morning rounds to his men...

At his first words, the men of the first to tents he poked his head through awoke immediately, though the third tent looked completely different, the insides covered with blood and viscera that was visible when looking at it from outside. Armand quickly drew his sword, using it to open the blood-soaked flap to Phillips tent, but what he found was worse than his worst nightmares...

His insides twisted and his muscles tensed as he peered inside the tent, taking a step back from the gore as he let out a cry of command...

[b]To arms![/b]

He screamed as the image of the inside of Phillips tent hit him again. Phillip was no more, his body viscously mawed by some beast, though the likes of which Armand had never seen. His insides were strung out across the floor of the tent, a leg detached an an arm missing. Armand feared that if he had been able to discern anything from Phillips eyes he would have gone insane, but his eyes were lost as well. The stomping of his men at his back and drawing of swords brought his thoughts back as he turned to face them...

[i]Only three, there should be four. Hanson was set to guard the Viscount by this hour, but where is...[/i]

He thought to himself as he looked them over, the lot of them trying to peer into Phillips tent, still not understanding what was going...

[b]Where's Brutus?[/b]

Armand questioned immediately, though his tone was one of concern, not of anger. Frederick was the one to reply...

[b]Sir, Brutus took up the watch after me. The last I saw of him he was making his nightly rounds...[/b]

His voice trailed off, the obvious gravity of the situation finally hitting him...

[b]Scour the camp site. Look for anything that is of use: footprints, blood, anything...[/b]

Armand said as he burst through their ranks, headed straight for the Viscount's quarters within the estate. He found Hanson posted guard at the Viscount's door, standing guard just as ordered. Normally Armand would have knocked, but the situation at hand overruled manners as he burst through the door, exhaling a visible sigh of relief as he found the Viscount unharmed...

[b]M' lord, there is trouble...[/b]

He said as he waited for the Viscount to awake fully, knowing the the noise he had made when entered must have roused his slumber. Armand stood a bit past the doorway, with Hanson at his back, a look of confusion within his green eyes...

07/31/2007 3:24 AM

"Barclay, Aida, wake up!"

Aida's face was drawn and tired, dark circles like smudges under her eyes, the tension of the last few says clearly taking its toll.

What had passed for sleep she had spent in her clothes, too nervous to even remove her shoes, so she rose quickly, looking on confusion at where they had lain Tarquin the previous night.

"But he couldn't..." she muttered half to herself: she had been more concerned about that elder brother than she had wanted to reveal, she had never seen symptoms like his, and had been eager to return to Doctor Fell.
"Jessop, even if he woke, he hasn't eaten for days, he shouldn't have the strength- at least not to go far. And why would he not tell us?"

A sudden thought made her stomach clench and she ran to the cart, throwing off the waxed leather sheet they had thrown over the belongings they had stowed there, and pushing a variety of smaller bags and bundles aside. Breath shuddering, she relaxed as she saw the larger sack containing what the brothers had salvaged from Merrywinter. She opened it briefly just to confirm for her own eyes that it still contained what amounted to Elmswhistle's future before turning to Jessop.

"I thought, maybe, someone..." sighing, she pushed a hand through her hair to gather it back before tying it with a leather cord.

"He can't have gone far by himself, Jessop. Perhaps the fever that made him so clammy broke, and he wandered off, disoriented". In her own mind she couldn't decide whether it would be a good thing or bad if he had gone as far as the village. The soldiers may not recognise him, and at the very least would start asking questions. If he was not in his right mind...

"Are there any tracks so at least we have an idea where to start looking?"
She started searching the ground and bushes for any sign of the older brother's passing, determined not to be left to look after the cart- if someone did happen by, what would she be able to do to stop them?

07/31/2007 10:06 AM

[b]M' lord, there is trouble...[/b]

He said as he waited for the Viscount to awake fully, knowing the the noise he had made when entered must have roused his slumber. Armand stood a bit past the doorway, with Hanson at his back, a look of confusion within his green eyes...

If there was one thing the Viscount Rhule Parmishroud hated it, was being intruded upon within his own quarters. Naked except for a pair of sleeping breeches, he leaped up from under the blanket of the bed which he had claimed as his own in the Daggervale's main guest room. The scrawny looking middle aged man greeted the two armed soldiers with an iron stare which could have felled trees. He was just about to scream some absurdities when something held him back. There was a look of panic in the two men's eyes which told him something deadly serious had happened.

Although he was pompous and arrogant, Rhule Parmishroud was no fool. He had enough experience in leading men to know exactly when and how far to push them, and more importantly when to stop.

"I do hope for your sakes this matter is important enough to warrant this kind of disturbance?" he snarled, unable to completely dispel his anger.

07/31/2007 10:44 AM

"He can't have gone far by himself, Jessop. Perhaps the fever that made him so clammy broke, and he wandered off, disoriented"

"Are there any tracks so at least we have an idea where to start looking?"

Jessop slapped his hand to his brow in utter despair. "The last thing we need is for those soldiers to find him! If he's wandering around delirious who knows what he might tell them!"

Having collected his pack and belongings Jessop began frantically scouring the ground for tacks at the suggestion of Aida.

"Rhys, help me out here!" he insisted. The youngest Daggervale was indeed the most at ease within the forest and was surely the only one who held any hope of finding a trail.

"What shall we do?" asked Jessop of Barclay and Aida, while Rhys set about examining the ground where his oldest brother had lay. "Surely we stand the best chance of finding him if we split up? But what about the sack? And the mules and cart, we can't just leave them here in the woods!"

Jessop looked to Barclay, Tarquin's oldest and most trusted friend. Barclay wouldn't look too out of place returning to his farm with the cart. His farm was far enough away from the village to avoid prying eyes and would have ample places for him to easily hide the large sack on which the village was so dependent on. It seemed like there was little option left other than to put the proposition to him. Meanwhile he and Aida could return to search the village while Rhys was left to search the surrounding woodland.

07/31/2007 2:16 PM

[b]My apologies for the intrusion Viscount Parmishroud...[/b]

Armand said in a lowered tone, realizing that he had angered the Viscount, though he had good reason. Armand averted his eyes from the man before continuing to speak...

[b]...but I must ask that you dress and come with me. It is not safe for you to be alone. I shall explain on the way...[/b]

He said as he exited the room, giving the Viscount time to prepare himself without the prying eyes of two soldiers. When the door had creaked to a close, Armand turned to Hanson, noting his concerned eyes...

[b]It's Phillip, Hanson... Someone has killed him, and Brutus is missing. Now go to the others and help them find any evidence that may remain...[/b]

Hanson's reply of honorifics echoed down the hall. He had taken off before thinking, but Armand would let this go untended. For his men to care so much about one another, the brotherly companionship, he could hope for nothing more. Armand moved to the right of the Viscount's door, awaiting his arrival as he tried to surmise just how to tell him...

08/01/2007 9:53 AM

Armand moved to the right of the Viscount's door, awaiting his arrival as he tried to surmise just how to tell him...

The Viscount quickly dressed himself in his extravagant tunic and surcoat, and re-fitted his ceremonial dirk in place on the belt around his waist. Without bothering to check over his he quickly exited the room, closing the firmly behind him.

"What is it, Shillingsworth?" he asked, turning to the Corporal who quietly awaited him in the hallway, "Have Lord Daggervale and his daughter escaped?.. Don't tell me we have a full scale revolt on our hands?"

08/02/2007 2:57 AM

Armand nodded as the Viscount exited his quarters, motioning his hand in front of him, inviting the man to walk with him as Armand started down the hallway. Invite wasn't the right word though. Until this was resolved, the viscount would not leave Armand's sight, of that Armand was certain. As the two walked down the hall, Armand explained, a solemn tone in his voice...

[b]No m' lord, tis no revolt. It's Phillip. He's been...[/b]

He struggled for the right words even now, even after he had spent the previous moments thinking of just this conversation...

[b]...attacked. It doesn't appear human though. It's as if some beast or deranged madman ripped him apart...[/b]

He paused, not merely to judge the Viscount's reactions, but because the horrid flashbacks or Phillip's tent was too much for him. Never in his life had he seen that sort of brutality...

[b]Brutus is missing as well. All my men are on guard, looking for any signs of a struggle, or any leads to the whereabouts of either Brutus of the killer, though there is little doubt that the two are related...[/b]

With that Armand allowed the Viscount to poise his questions, as undoubtedly the previous officer from Armand's own regime had. Questions, however, that Armand may not be able to answer. His grim face, though stern, gave way to that...

08/03/2007 2:47 AM

...attacked. It doesn't appear human though. It's as if some beast or deranged madman ripped him apart...

The Viscount stopped in his tracks and turned to face the Corporal. In an instant his haughty facade was dropped, replaced by a look of genuine fear and concern.

[b]Brutus is missing as well. All my men are on guard, looking for any signs of a struggle, or any leads to the whereabouts of either Brutus of the killer, though there is little doubt that the two are related...[/b]

Rhule simply nodded in response. "Firstly let us check on Lord Daggervale and his daughter." he added after a moments pause.

The two made their way down the hallway towards the master bedroom in which Laura, the old butler Gerrad, and a sick Sebastian Daggervale had been locked. Once outside the solid wooden door, Rhule rapped his fist on it loudly whilst removing a key from his pocket.

"Gerrad, Miss Daggervale, are you alright in there? Stand away from the door we are coming in!" At that Rhule unlocked it and pushed the door open.

The scene inside was just as they had left it, the old Lord tucked up in bed with his beautiful daughter and the old butler sat at either side. The soldiers had boarded up the window so they couldn't escape, but the room was large and comfortable with it's own private chamber, they had also been left with plenty of food and water supplies.

"My apologies for the intrusion. It seems there is an incident outside and I wanted to check on your wellbeing."

Before the spirited young woman could bombard him with more questions and demands he quickly pulled the door shut and locked it once again.

Rhule turned to the Corporal, unsure as to what to do next. The nobleman was more a political leader than a military one. Even in his younger years of service within the Army he had been so far up the chain of command he had never so much as seen a skirmish. Of course he could bark out a few commands and orders to give the impression he knew what he was doing, but now that it came to the tactical decisions required to command his small squad of men he had no idea where to begin. The squad simply wasn't big enough to deal with a situation like this. With one dead and one missing, that left only four soldiers under Corporal Shillingsworth. Barely enough to secure the Daggervale Estate, let alone the whole village!

"Armand," he said, using the Corporal Shillingsworth's first name for the first time ever. "Head back outside and check on the men. Send one of them back here to assist me while you take the others and investigate what the heck's going on!"

08/12/2007 1:18 AM

[b]Yes, m' lord...[/b]

Armand said as he parted ways with the Viscount, heading directly to the campsite where his men were no doubt still looking for any signs of the perpetrator. As he opened the doors that led outside the house, he was confronted by one of his soldiers. Marshall, as he was called, had almost been knocked out as Armand swung open the double doors, but after a moment for composure he quickly started in...

[b]Sir... We have found something...[/b]

The look that Armand saw in the man's eyes spoke more than his tongue ever could have, and it was obvious that the find was not one to rejoice. With a nod, Armand followed the black man through a newly made trail in the woods. The two were careful to avoid stepping directly on the tracks left by the villain, as their tracker, Caster, knelt down to study them. As the trail lengthened the now obvious trail of blood grew bigger, and Armand's stomach sank as he approached the spot where Hanson and Frederick stood in whispers, hypothesizing over what the find could be...

As he neared, the spectacle played into vision. It was an arm, a man's arm, but unlike any he had ever seen. The arm, as if ripped from the shoulder socket of the victim, was severely mutilated, but upon closer inspection Armand's heart sank, and if it hadn't been for his men and keeping his superiority to them, he would have shed tears. It was Phillips, the ring at his thumb proved that, but that wasn't the only thing that the closer look revealed. The bone, and a lot of bone shown through the meat and muscle of their swordsman's arm, there were obvious bite marks. Bite marks, however, not of an animal...

Armand wanted to touch them, somehow prove to himself that it wasn't so, but he knew it was true. His mind instantly shifted from mourning for his friend to avenging his death, a look of fire in his eyes as he stood up and turned to his men...

[b]No man unknown to us is to approach this camp or house. If any man chooses so, he is to identify himself, and any man failing to obey those orders is to be put down...[/b]

He said, nodding to Marshall, his squads archer. Marshall sheathed his sword at the order, grabbing his longbow at the orders as he knocked an arrow, returning to the campsite to stand guard. Armand turned to the others...

[b]Hanson, Frederick, I want you to sweep the area. Do not leave each other's side. Go, and keep a watchful eye out...[/b]

As he finished the two left, and Armand knelt down again to inspect the find. He didn't have to tell his men that this find did not leave the group. He quickly rose again, walking back to the campsite as he stopped to talk to Caster, who was still inspecting the footprints...

[b]Caster, when you are finished I want you to report directly to me. Venture no further than this point, and with respect to your work, make haste...[/b]

As he finished, Armand set for his tent. With his longsword at his side, he still lacked his helm, shield, and broadsword. He quickly entered his tent and grabbed his gear, exiting once more to latch it outside his tent. As he did so the events of the day played through his head once more. What was once a routine mission was no more, it was something much, much worse...

08/13/2007 6:58 AM

Aida took a few of the smaller bags, mainly filled with clothes, from the cart before leaving, rearranging them to two packs.

"If we're stopped by soldiers we can claim to have been away. Mayhap we'll get lucky and they won't recognise you".

[i]Or me[/i].

There weren't too many women her age in the village, but she and Barclay had kept a low profile when they'd returned to the village, and she was reasonably confident that no one would recall her. It would be bad luck indeed if they encountered the few soldiers they had met then.

Biting her lip she handed one pack to Jessop, shouldering her own, and looking from the road to the forest.

"Are we better to try to sneak in, I wonder, or brazen the road? Answering questions will lose us time, and Barclay and myself didn't have too much trouble slipping past them.."

Her eyes narrowed as she thought, then she pointed to the east.

"If we go through the trees, skirt around by Old Corin's fields- the bramble there is so tangled that it looks like a wall, they may think it safe to leave it unwatched. But there's a path through it, I take it to cut to the marsh. That at least will get us into the village- and with hedges running from the trees to the road it should give us cover if we need it".

[i]But to where from there?[/i]

After wishing Rhys and Barclay luck she led the way into the woods, moving as quietly as she could and stopping to listen every so often in the hopes that luck would be with them and they'd stumble across Tarquin.

It was quite cool in the shade of the forest, leaves that had been dropped at the start of Autumn still underfoot, almost mulch now, but enough of the trees remaining green to form a sheltering canopy and to shield them from October's chill winds
"If he's fevered..." she kept her voice low, "I don't know, Jessop. Will he make for home and places he knows, do you think, or is he more like to wander? When we get to Elmswhistle we may be better trying to get a little help to look".

[i]And pray that he's just wandering, because we've little hope of getting near your home[/i].

08/13/2007 9:54 AM

Saysen was about six hours and one more meal of berries and squirrel from giving up and becoming a hermit when he finally stumbled out of the woods. By his count, he'd lost eight days of time to those blasted trees.

But even as he brushed the last of the leaves and mud from his bare feet his spirits brightened. He was scant minutes from Elmswhistle! At least he'd come out on the right side of that accursed forest. He began to whistle as he strode the road, thinking of all the people he hadn't seen in years, wondering what they looked like, who was married, who'd taken over their parent's shops, who'd died while he was away.

[i] Hopefully that crazy Cobbler has snuffed it by now [/i] he mused hopefully, brushing long fingers against the scar in his side. He was not looking foreward to a reunion with that wheat scythe.

His step quickened as the town proper came into view...but something was off.

[i] The noise, [/i] he thought suddenly. [i]Where is the noise?[/i] None of the usual village sounds echoed out from Elmswhistle, no children, no merchant voices, even the blacksmith's anvil was not to be heard. The town seemed earily quiet; not the home Saysen had left at all. Everything seemed on edge, everything seemed [i]tensed[/i].

The reason for the stillness soon came into view--a camp, of what looked like soldiers, set right outside the Daggervale home.

[i]Oh no[/i] Saysen had been beaten to the punch, the thing he'd tried to warn his home about was already upon them.

"Stupid, stupid," he mumbled ot himself, thinking on the days wasted in the forest ,lost and wandering when he should have been here. "I have to talk to Daggervale," he said aloud, hoping the words would give him conviction. Sebastian Daggervale had always been intimidating, and Saysen was not looking foreward to telling the man he admired so much that he had--even in a roundabout way--failed him.

Saysen didn't get four steps towards the house, however, before a thin, razor sharp arrow sang past his head, nicking his ear and landing three inches in the dirt at his heel.

"Mother of Mercy!" Saysen hollered, throwning his long arms above his head, twisting about to find his attacker. "What the hell do you think you're doing?!"

08/13/2007 1:38 PM

[Posted By nanuk]
"If we go through the trees, skirt around by Old Corin's fields- the bramble there is so tangled that it looks like a wall, they may think it safe to leave it unwatched. But there's a path through it, I take it to cut to the marsh. That at least will get us into the village- and with hedges running from the trees to the road it should give us cover if we need it".

Jessop nodded in agreement to what sounded like an excellent idea.

Before departing, the three parties agreed to meet at the Cloak and Dagger first thing tomorrow morning. They each bid one another good luck before setting off on their separate ways.

Rhys scurried off following the outskirts of the woods with the intention of circling the village in hopes of eventually picking up on Tarquin's trail. Jessop and Aida proceeded east through the diminishing woodland towards the village

"If he's fevered..." she kept her voice low, "I don't know, Jessop. Will he make for home and places he knows, do you think, or is he more like to wander? When we get to Elmswhistle we may be better trying to get a little help to look".

Jessop spoke without slowing from the sprightly pace he had set, "I don't know how, Aida, but I feel like Tarquin would have tried to make his way home. He was determined to make it back to save the village. My brother's as stubborn as an old mule and even if he isn't thinking straight I'm sure he wouldn't have swayed too far from his chosen course."

Jessop made his way around the edge of the fields, and then thankful for Aida's guidance, he lead the way through the hidden path within the seemingly impenetrable wall of brambles. The path within was small and narrow, with the thick brambles almost arching completely over their heads in some places, causing the tall man to have to stoop. The path twisted and winded and was full of shadows before they disappeared completely into the still, eerie darkness within. Ever cautious, Jessop drew his short sword for the sake of his own self-confidence as much as to clear the overgrown path ahead of them.

"You take this route alone??" whispered Jessop to Aida who followed closely behind him. "I would guess... I would hope in fact, you're the only one who uses it. Never have I seen such a creepy looking place during broad daylight on the very doorstep of Elmswhistle!" Despite the truth in them, Jessop's words were spoken in jest. Having slowed down to a more cautious pace he now seemed less frantic in his desperation to find his missing elder brother.

08/14/2007 6:20 AM

Seconds later Marshall had another arrow knocked, aimed directly at the newly arrived visitor to Elmswhistle. The first arrow, which now stuck out of the ground mere inches from the would be intruder's feet, was obviously meant to show that there was nothing but seriousness here. The nest arrow would soar through his heart, and Marshall would not be afraid to do it...

[b]Halt! State your name and your business here, and do not jest mind you![/b]

Marshall yelled out, staying where he was at a somewhat elevated position to Saysen. As he spoke, he could see Hanson and Frederick circling to flank the man, in the off chance that he was foolish enough to make a run for it. He would make it fifty feet, unless by a miracle...


Armand had just finished latching his shield and broadsword to his back whenever Caster approached him, obviously having found some clue as to the perpetrator. Armand nodded as he held his helm in the nook of his elbow at his side, waiting for his tracker to speak before donning the helm...

[b]Sir, those footprints were made by a man wearing armor, much like any of us. I can only say for certain that he was armored, and heavily for that matter. The prints are deep, but the gait is the strangest perhaps. The man appears to be injured, but how he could be injured and still capable of that is beyond me...[/b]

Armand had never known Caster to be wrong in his assumptions when it came to tracking, and he had no reason to now. He trusted his men completely...

[b]Very good Caster, now I wa...[/b]

His sentence was cut short at the sound of a loosed arrow, accompanied by Marshall's voice. That could only mean one thing. Caster started towards where the noise came from, but Armand's outstretched arm stopped him...

[b]You are needed here. Stand guard here until you hear otherwise...[/b]

Caster nodded in a slow agreement, obviously wanting partake in the excitement, though he quickly followed the nod with a...

[b]Yes sir![/b]

...as Armand donned his helm, making his way towards where the noise was coming from. He placed his hand at the hilt of his longsword as he moved, just in case his weapons were needed, though with Marshall's keen eye and unwavering aim he highly doubted it...

08/14/2007 10:54 AM

Saysen could feel the blood trickling down the side of his face, the arrow had nicked a vein in the side of his ear, the warm liquid was pooling above his earlobe.

[b]Halt! State your name and your business here, and do not jest mind you![/b]

[i]There he is [/i] Saysen looked up into the nearest tree and met eyes squarly with a very serious looking soldier with an even more serious looking bow. Even though is eyes were locked on the archer, Saysen could feel at least another two flanking him slightly behind. He knew he was trapped, by their movement and srtides, both men behind him were quick and large--he could probably outrun them, but he'd have an arrow in his back before he could take a second breath. There was no getting out the easy way--he'd just have to keep his tounge in check, which wasn't going to be easy with his ear stinging like an angry hornet. He stood up to his full height and brushed the dirt off his knees, keeping eye contact with the archer, never letting his guard drop.

"I am called Saysen Silnye, i'm a wanderer and a merchant and you made me [i]bleed[/i]." Saysen indignantly pointed to his ear, he hoped that didn't count as a jest. "What on earth are you people looking for? I pose no threat. I'm here to visit an old friend." To emphasize his words, Saysen took his hunting knife from his belt and tossed it to the ground in front of him. "Now if you could tell the two--no, pardon--make that three probably large and imposing men behind me to lower their weapons I would be most grateful."

08/15/2007 6:48 PM

Hanson and Frederick had exited the bush just as Saysen had called them out, Hanson's sword drawn and Frederick holding his trusty battle axe. An imposing sight no doubt, but Frederick alone was imposing enough. He was easily the strongest of the squad, though where there are strengths there are weaknesses, and his was most certainly his intelligence. Not dumb by any means mind you, more so that his answer to most anything was his axe. Nonetheless, he obeyed orders just as the others did, and did not strike unless needed...

The hand placed on Marshall's shoulder from Armand as he approached him calmed the archer down, though he still held his mark. Armand had arrived just in time to hear Saysen's reply, and just as soon as he had placed his hand he removed it, walking towards Saysen as he did so. He removed his helm along the way, as to show no sign of ill intent. He held in in the nook of his elbow by his side as he spoke...

[b]Greetings Saysen, I am Corporal Armand Shillingsworth, of the 1st Denzabian Regiment of Royal Guards. I wish would could have met on lighter terms, but I'm afraid that I must verify your story. Is there anyone here that could do that?[/b]

Armand stood a good six feet in front of the man, positioned so Marshall could keep his aim while Hanson and Frederick still held flanking positions. He nodded to Frederick to ease him as well. He was easily the quickest to strike of the group, but in the thick of battle there was none fiercer. Armand's blue eyes showed no sign of harm as he looked the man over. He could normally pick out a bad apple, and this man didn't seem to be one, but he had to be certain. He only wished that Marshall hadn't been so painfully revealing of his location...

08/20/2007 8:52 PM

Saysen cocked a dark eyebrow at Corporal Armand Shillingsworth--he wasn't exactly fond of soldiers. They talked in circles.

I'm afraid that I must verify your story. Is there anyone here that could do that?

Saysen spread his hands wide, indicating the whole village.
"Find any old mother or townsman and ask them about the imp-child that stole their laundry. This was my [i]home[/i] for longer than you've been carrying that helmet laddybuck." He stepped foreward and rapped his broad knuckles against the metal for emphasis, creating the unpleasant sound of bone on metal. He probably shouldn't have done that; comments like that usually got his helmet-less head whacked, but Saysen's mouth had a mind of it's own. This Shillingsworth looked like he knew exactly what he was doing, too. And he did it [i]well.[/i] As Saysen's brain caught up with his mouth (which hadn't matured much since his last years in Elmswhistle) he rushed to cover his impolite remark with truth.

"I'm here to see Daggervale," he told Shillingsworth with a sigh and a long arm in the direction of the house. "I've just come to see an old friend in dark times--to talk of better days." Saysen still didn't think he'd convinced them, he could still feel the cold of the metal against his knuckle where he'd struck the helmet. He shifted his wieght from foot to foot, but kept a steady gaze on Shillingsworth, not for a second forgetting the arrow that had struck his ear, or the author of that new wound, still at the ready behind the corporal.

"You met a man named Barclay?" Saysen asked grudingly, a man he hadn't seen in sixteen years was the only name he could think, other than a Daggervale, that could verify his identity.

[Edited by Zombie-Pop on Monday, August 20, 2007 8:54 PM]

08/21/2007 1:16 PM

"You take this route alone??" whispered Jessop to Aida who followed closely behind him. "I would guess... I would hope in fact, you're the only one who uses it. Never have I seen such a creepy looking place during broad daylight on the very doorstep of Elmswhistle!"

She laughed gently, for what felt like the first time in too long.

"It's only creepy because it's unfamiliar. I've walked it since I was a child, so I see tangled boughs that protect robins from magpies, and a rarely used path that means untrodden herbs.

"There's a whole network of trails around the village- I'm constantly surprised at how rarely I see people on them", her face grew more serious again. "Who'd have thought it would be such a blessing".

She tapped Jessop's shoulder lightly to indicate he should take the right fork in a sudden branch.

The darkness seemed, if anything, to grow thicker, the lack of light making each small unknown scuttle or whisper feel louder, but they pushed on without pause; Aida finding it somewhat easier to push through the growth than the tall Daggervale.

After a short time she tapped Jessop's shoulder again, holding a finger to her lips to show that they were nearing the village and needed to be quiet. The briar and bramble at first appeared no less dense but in mere moments the shadows had lifted considerably, and movement was easier.

"We approach Old Corin's fields-", she dropped her voice to a whisper, "we're still completely shielded from the view in the fields, but..." she left unspoken that they would need to be more cautious and alert.

She paused near the widened entrance to survey the field, gesturing to the overgrown hedges that ran for some way along the left from where the tree cover ended, while picking up some deadfall to make a bundle of kindling to carry.

"They're high and thick enough to keep us hidden, but where to once we get to the road? I think we'd be wise to get the bearings of the village before searching nearer your home. Perhaps..." she chewed her lip a little, "perhaps my father. When I was home last he still went on his walks, the soldiers didn't really bother him. Perhaps he saw something".

08/21/2007 3:40 PM

The man definitely had a mouth on him, but Armand decided to let it slide considering the recent wound Marshall had inflicted, but his hand moved instinctively to his sword hilt as the man approached him. He didn't bother drawing it, as Marshall at his back would have an arrow through his eye before he could even think to pull a hidden dagger, stopping the thought in it's tracks. His words he would allow to slip, but if he touched an official again, he would more than likely find a very quick death. Frederick would see to that, and would have seen to it then it Armand hadn't raised his hand from his hilt to calm him down once more...

[b]I've heard of no Barclay, but if you are here to see a Daggervale then surely they could verify your story. Henceforth, however, mind both your tongue and your hands..[/b]

As he finished he removed his helmet, revealing his kind face, surely proving to Saysen that he meant no harm. He dropped to one knee to pick up the knife that Saysen had thrown down, giving Marshall an even cleaner shot in the off chance that he decided to do something foolish. He latched the knife next to his longsword at his left side as he began to talk again, holding his helm in the crook of his elbow as he did...

[b]Hanson, Frederick, continue your rounds. Mr. Silnye and I are going to see what we can't find out at the estate...[/b]

Frederick was hesitant as he left, obviously concerned at his commanding officer's disposition toward the intruder, but he knew that Armand knew what he was doing. Seconds later the duo was back in the thick and Armand turned to Saysen once more...

[b]Please come with me Mr. Silnye, or if you would rather you can stay here with Marshall...[/b]

Armand finished, gesturing to the archer as he made his way up towards the camp, knowing that Saysen would either follow him or stay right there - Marshall would make sure of that. When he reached the point when Marshall had made his stand, he turned back to see what Saysen had chosen to do...

08/22/2007 11:34 AM

For the first time in as long as he could recall, Carson felt the uncomfortable sensation of fear brewing in the pit of his stomach. Standing rooted behind the bar, the old barman reached a chubby hand for the sturdy cudgel he kept to persuade drunks it was time to leave.

At this time in the day The Cloak and Dagger had been completely empty until the soldier had barged his way in through the door. There was something very strange about the man, [i]something was not quite right with him at all[/i]. His body seemed to be twitching involuntary. His movements were jerky and seemed to flicked between unnaturally fast and unnaturally slow. Saliva drooled in thick strands from his slack jaw onto his blood stained military uniform as his gaunt face slowly scanned the room.

Carson thought about speaking, but again the sharp tongued old man was at a loss for words.

The soldier's vacant eyes finally seemed to focus on the barman and his expressionless face twisted into a snarl. Hissing almost snake like he sprang to life, ran the length of the room and pounced head first towards the bar.

Carson's immaculately kept tankard collection clattered to the floor as the soldier landed on his stomach on the bar. Carson brought the hefty cudgel down with as much force as he could muster, connecting clean onto the back of the crazed man's head. The blow was enough to knock out a mule, but somehow he was still wriggling about like an upturned beetle. Strong hands reached out and grasped at the barman's leather apron as he brought up the cudgel for another strike.

"AAARGGHHH!" Carson screamed in agony. The maniac had pulled himself forwards and sunk his teeth into Carson's chubby thigh. Again he pounded the club down onto the man's head to little effect.

Lifting himself up, the soldier who had been know as Brutus pulled the barman down towards him. Face to face with their eyes locked for only a brief second before Brutus sunk his teeth into Carson's neck. Flailing backwards onto the floor behind the bar with Brutus on top of him Carson prayed that death would come as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Blow after blow rained down towards his face from his frenzied attacker while Carson did his best to protect himself. The seconds seemed to drag on for hours in the precarious position of waiting for the killer blow to come. All the while he could feel his life's blood leaking away from the wound in his neck.

Stunned from soldier's punches, Carson's blinked a couple of times before he realised his attacker had suddenly jumped up and gone. He heard the familiar sound of the creaking door as his attacker quickly made his way out of the inn.

Carson breathed a sigh of relief to somehow still be alive, but the old man couldn't find the strength to pick himself up from the floor where he was hidden behind the bar. His body ached like never before and he knew it would not be long before he bled to death unless help arrived soon. Having never much cared for customers in preference of the tranquility of an immaculately kept bar, he now found himself praying that someone would come along soon. And all the while he must endure the discomfort of seeing broken spilled tankards at ether side of him. This was turning out to be a bad day indeed!

08/22/2007 10:07 PM

Darith had been knocked out cold from hitting his head on a rock within the river, and being half drowned. Really he was lucky to be taken to the boat. In the darkness that had taken him he saw Livia's face. Her pale beauty would probably haunt him for the rest of his life, but a sudden thumping noise made his eyes slowly open. The grogginess didnt leave him for a few minutes after he did open his eyes. Finally his vision cleared, and he could see he was laying on a makeshift bed. He was in his undergarments. His boots, and other clothes hung to dry across from where he was laying.

An attempt to sit up rewarded him with a sharp pain he felt towards the back of his head."Damn it.." He mustered all his strength and stood dressing in his clothes. He noticed automatically he was without his sword or belongings. He grit his teeth quickly wrestling to put his boots on properly before peeking out of his bunk to see if anyone else was present.


Let me know if this is alright Flark ))

08/26/2007 7:29 AM

[Posted By nanuk]
"perhaps my father. When I was home last he still went on his walks, the soldiers didn't really bother him. Perhaps he saw something".

Jessop nodded. Atherol would be a good first point of contact in figuring out what exactly had been going on in the village during their absence. The old smithy's house was well positioned from the direction they were approaching, giving them a fair chance of making it without being spotted.

Without further delay the pair cautiously made their way out from the cover of the thick bramble, over a short wooden fence and into the open fields beyond. Keeping low they hurried along the damp ankle height grass of the small field which held a dozen or so grazing cows. It took but few seconds of being out in the open without cover before they made it to the edge of the field. There they were protected from the view of the road by the high hedges which surrounded the field's perimeter.

They made their way through two more fields before reaching a point where there was a gap in the hedge almost directly opposite Aida and Atherol's house.

Jessop got down onto his haunches and peered through hedge through to where the village and main road appeared completely deserted.

"Everything looks normal. There's no sign of anyone on the road or streets. Come on, let's move while we've got the chance!"

He leant forwards onto his hands and knees and pushed his way through the hedge.

08/27/2007 2:15 PM

Please come with me Mr. Silnye, or if you would rather you can stay here with Marshall...

Saysen looked over Shillingsworth's shoulder at Marshall, who looked just as determined to pierce Saysen's other ear as he had done the first. No. Definatly not staying. He shrugged his angular shoulders and swept his arms out in a gesture of compliance.

"Lead the way Corporal," he sighed loping to catch up with the officer."Not that being shot the first time I move my little toe doesn't sound exhilarating, but I don't know how much excitment my poor heart can take in one day." He grinned, placing his long-fingered hand over his breast ina dramatic tableu but didn't recieve much of a response. Saysen lets his arms flop down as he rolled his eyes back into his head. This Shillingswirth was a lively one. As he walked abreast with Shillingsworth he took the oppprtunity to look over him more closely. The man looked on edge, as if he expected something to pounce on him any minute. Something had frightened this man, and Saysen was fairly sure it wasn't his silly tounge.

"You lads are a formal lot," Saysen told him, resting his hands behind his head as he walked, trying to lighten the sense of forboding that seemed to hang around the soldier. "Mr. Silnye," he snorted, chuckling to himself. "Mr. Silnye was my father, and he's been long dead these sixteen years. Saysen will suffice just fine."

09/05/2007 6:08 AM

Aida practically sprinted across the lane after Jessop, moving ahead of him through the gate to push open the heavy oak front door of the house. She moved aside to let him through, then had a quick scan of the still-quiet roads before shutting the door, only just resisting the urge to bolt it.

Atherol was standing near the fire, his posture suggesting he had only just risen from his chair, prompted by the sudden intrusion. Coal smudged his cheek, and a few small beads of sweat glistened on his forehead. Running to him Aida hugged him fiercely, more unsettled than she would have admitted by being forced to sneak into the village, but feeling hugely comforted just by being in his presence.

He was characteristically taciturn; nodding a greeting to Jessop over his daughter's shoulder he let her break the embrace, and waited to be told of the problem.

"Have you been in the village yet this day, Father?". Concern was written on her face, and she left one hand on his elbow for continued solace.

"Aye", Atherol nodded, his face wry. "I'm just back- I was working early and then went for a walk. The King's men have been running around like blue-arsed flies, upset as b'damned".

His face grew suddenly serious and he placed his hands on her shoulder, eyes darting briefly to Jessop.
"Tell me it's not because of you".

"No, no, I don't-" she stopped, glancing in confusion at Jessop: perhaps this was why they had been able to reach the village unchallenged. "I don't think so. We came unseen into the village. And they wouldn't-..."
She trailed off, chewing her lip.

[i]They wouldn't get so worked up just because they found Tarquin, surely?[/i]

Perhaps, if fevered, and finding his way home barred, he may have challenged the soldiers, but they were trained men, and he was ill: it would have been easy for them to subdue him, without need of whatever fuss her father saw.

She shook her head, looking frankly at her father.
"No, I don't think whatever you saw was because of us- not yet. They did it, father-" she smiled a little shakily at him, "Jessop and Tarquin and Rhys- they got what we needed to pay the taxes and save the village. But... Tarquin fell ill- a strange fever- we rested last night outside in the woods and woke this morning to find him gone.

"We need to find him. Did you see anything of him this morning?"

[OOC: I'll leave it there because I don't know whether or not you [i]wanted[/i] him to see anything ;)]

09/05/2007 8:46 AM

On exiting the Cloak and Dagger, the blood soaked mad man who had formerly gone by the name of Brutus made his way back onto the deserted main street of Elmswhistle. He moved quickly, but seemingly without purpose or direction as he criss-crossed the cobbled road repeatedly whilst making his way back towards the Daggervale Estate.

If anyone in the houses which he passed by had spotted him, they wisely chose to remain hidden from view. Whatever was affecting Brutus's mind rapidly appeared to be going through some kind of transitional phasing. Every minute which passed he visibly became more alert and in tune with his senses, his movements became more fluid and hand-eye coordination improved. These changes could be seen openly as some kind of inner battle going on inside the deranged man's mind, but as time went on phasing became less violent and less obvious.

Despite Brutus's outward appearance becoming less zombie-like, he was become further away from being what we would describe as human. The memories and personality of his former self had been pushed further away into the darkest reaches of the man's soul, replaced by nothing other than a primal desire to reproduce by infecting the uninfected.

The former soldier was now becoming a hunter - a hunter of men, of women and of children. Age, sex, whether they be former friends or foes, he would no longer discriminate or even distinguish the difference between them now.

Upon approaching the Daggervale Estate, the small group of soldiers could be seen up ahead conversing with a thin, dishevelled looking man. Like some ravenous beast with it's eye on easy prey, the hunter broke into an awkward sprint and charged the group. They were still some distance away but his primal instincts fed him the knowledge that rushing them would gift him his best chance of gaining close proximity.

[Edited by Flark on Wednesday, September 5, 2007 8:48 AM]

09/07/2007 10:21 AM

"We need to find him. Did you see anything of him this morning?"

Atherol shook his head slowly, looking from his daughter to Jessop.
"No, nothing. Nor heard anything- and I walked the whole village. Even called into the inns. If he's as ill as you say maybe he did not come this far".

"Rhys is checking the woods in case he just wandered off confused," Aida gestured vaguely in the direction they had come, "With luck he will find Tarquin, but we cannot rely on that, I think.".

Atherol sat down heavily in his chair, wincing a little as his knee popped.
"Well, if the fever's as bad as you say, if he had the wherewithal to make it as far as the village he most likely headed for what's familiar- have you checked by the Estate yet?"

Aida sighed as she untied the knot in the front of her shawl, folding it neatly before setting it down.
"Not yet. We skirted around through the woods and came straight here once we reached Elmswhistle. With soldiers on patrol..." she shrugged, hands clenched slightly, "we'd hoped to avoid it for the moment- or I had at least". She glanced apologetically at Jessop.

Her father grunted, stretching out his leg and rubbing at his knee before looking up at Jessop.
"It'll be hard to get near. They've kept Laura there since ye returned that first time-" he nodded to Aida, "[i]Seems[/i] like they're being treated reasonably but they're all but prisoners up there".

He sighed, the gesture strikingly similar to that of his daughter, and leaned back into the chair.
"Maybe... with this kerfuffle with the soldiers, keeping them busy... they still need food up there- I don't know if there's a delivery scheduled but maybe that's something to look into, a way to get to the house?"

09/10/2007 4:27 AM

"Maybe... with this kerfuffle with the soldiers, keeping them busy... they still need food up there- I don't know if there's a delivery scheduled but maybe that's something to look into, a way to get to the house?"

Jessop stifled his urge to begin pacing up and down the room impatiently. Regardless, his feet shuffled while he shifted his weight from one leg to the other and rubbed his unshaven chin in frustration.

There was little doubt that hastily rushing off to the Estate without a carefully devised plan would probably result in his arrest and him joining the majority of his family in incarceration. He had to admit that Atherol's plan wasn't a bad one either, and if enforced by Aida's insistence on checking the well being of his father, he was confident that at least she could gain access to the house.

Jessop nodded, satisfied that he had made up his mind before speaking up.

"If Tarquin didn't make it to the village then I'm certain that Rhys will find him. For all that my young brother lacks, there is no one more at home in the woods around the village that he. If indeed Tarquin did make it to the village, then I have little doubt that he would have headed directly home and must have been detained by now."

He paused for a moment before continuing.

"Your plan makes good sense Atherol. I wish I was able to remain here to assist but I'm afraid I cannot. I fear I'm letting my feelings overcome common sense but I must go to the Estate now and face whatever will greet me there alone. If it is simply money that these soldiers want then I will gladly take it to them.

The Daggervale's will forever be in your debt for what you have done for us thus far and I feel guilty for involving the pair of you further. Unfortunately I must beg that you go ahead with your plan in taking food and medicine to the estate. I can now only pray that with the extra bargaining power which has cost us so dearly to find, that I am able to resolve the issue before your arrival."

Jessop embraced Aida and said goodbye in what he hoped would be a very short absence. Finally, shaking the old man's hand firmly he wished them luck and hastily left the house.

09/18/2007 10:03 AM

Aida stood in the doorway for a moment after Jessop had left, trying to get her thoughts straight.

She felt like doing nothing more than sinking into the armchair by the fire, the thought of dozing in front of the smouldering embers more than enticing. Her conscience, however, would allow her to do no more than consider the idea before moving to the pantry to collect a number of tonic bottles, infusions and poultices.

When she returned, the various medicines stowed safely away in a satchel, Atherol was standing near the door, a light coat now worn over his shirt.

"You don't have to come with me, you know".

A well-practiced look was all she got by way of a reply, the expression communicating elegantly that she was a fool if she thought he wouldn't accompany her.

No need for stealth, now, they made their way up the road towards the Cloak and Dagger, Aida guessing it the most likely source of any supplies requested for the estate. She glanced occasionally at her father, his stride long and assured beside her, more so than in a long time, and calm assurance writ upon his face.

A sense of purpose was working wonders for lifting the years from his shoulders, but she nevertheless hoped that Carson would have a handcart they could borrow for the supplies.

They passed no one in the town, soldier or otherwise: Aida felt as if she should be grateful, but found the deserted air of the village unsettling. She pushed open the door of the inn, eager to speak with Carson, a font of news and rumours even in normal times. The taproom was empty, an unfamiliar sight in itself, but even more unusually there was no one behind the bar.

"Carson? Hello?" She exchanged confused glances with Atherol before heading for the door that led through to the kitchen. Holding it open she called once more, and once more received no answer.

"I don't understand", turning back she shook her head, "the door was open. Even if he was called away Carson wouldn't have gone anywhere without locking up. Maybe we should check around the ba-".

She stopped mid sentence. As she'd turned from the door her eyes had fallen over the bar, fear gripping her stomach as she realised what she was glimpsing on the floor behind it.
Slowly, she took two steps to the side, needing a better view though not wanting it. With a gasped cry she ran forward, crouching down next to the man's torn body.
"Father- get me water from the kitchen, please!" she grabbed a cleaning cloth from the bar top, holding it to the wound in Carson's neck. "And more cloths!"

[OOC: Jesus Christ- four attempts at spelling medicine... this migraine is clearly screwing my brain up royally. No need to do a whole post for Carson's response (assuming he's in a fit state ;)), just stick it in your next post]

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