The Odd Writings

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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:40 am

Well on time, haha. Here, have another.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter Negative, the Second: The Heist, the Power, and the Departure.

“Bod! Window, now!”

The clear cry cut through the ambient buzz of nobles in merry discussion over their feast. The room quickly fell silent and all eyes turned to the large double doors against the wall, one of which had just been kicked open as a pink-haired girl sprinted through, carrying a large, round case.

I leaned out slightly from my spot standing along the wall with the rest of the waiters as we waited for an opportunity to wait, and briefly locked eyes with the girl. She had a huge grin on her face, and her eyes were wide with excitement and adrenaline.

I would have rolled my eyes, but the seconds were precious and I dove straight into action. I darted forward from the wall to the table, just as the castle chef burst in through the door, shouting and brandishing a ladle as if it were a weapon. He was followed by several guardsmen, also shouting, and brandishing heavy clubs as more worrisome weapons.

I snatched two round plates from the table, dumping the food they held on the dinner guests, and took off sprinting toward the far side of the room. Noel was right behind me, and the pursuers were right behind her. We didn't have the time to stop and actually open the window, so I had to improvise.

A pair of guards moved from the far side of the room to intercept us, and I withdrew a pouch of salt from my pocket and threw it at them. The projectile struck one guard squarely in the face and exploded, dropping him on the floor with eyes and nose full of burning salt. I had to use a little more force with the other one; using the back of his friend as a springboard, I jumped into the air and smacked his solidly on the side of the head with one of the plates I was carrying. His helmet rang out a sharp note, and he wobbled unsteadily, dazed, as Noel and I ran past him.

The window we had as our impromptu escape route was drawing closer, and I threw the plates like discs, sailing through the air to crash through the glass, leaving the window intact, just with a couple plate-shaped holes.

I should have thrown bowls. I thought as I crossed my arms in front of my face and dove through the glass, clearing the rest of it out for Noel to follow through harmlessly.

The window we had just leapt from was, of course, on the third floor, so I had to act quickly or our day would go from bad to worse. Fortunately, there was a long, thick tapestry hanging down the side of the castle wall, which I reached out for and just barely managed to grab hold of.

After just a second, Noel came plummeting past me, hands still full with the case she had taken, and I reached out from the wall and caught her by the ankle. The extra weight felt like it was going to rip m arm clean off, and I heard threads in the tapestry snapping, but our descent slowed and I managed to hold us steady, just high enough that Noel's long hair fell and brushed the ground below us.

Noel looked down-up at me, showing me her wild grin, and I finally took the chance to roll my eyes, then gave a bit of a swing as I released her. She managed to flip over in the air and land on her feet, and I dropped down after her.

We looked back up at the window to see the castle chef, red-faced and already out of breath from pursuing Noel through the castle, starting to wave his ladle and shout at us viciously. After a couple seconds he was dragged back and a guardsman poked his head out.

“Thank you!” Noel shouted, raising her prized case and showing it off. “We'll be sure to put this to good use!”

I lightly punched her arm to get her attention. “Would you stop that? They're gonna come after us, we have to go.” I said. She smiled, then blew a raspberry up at the window before we ran of into the woods.

When we first moved out into our treehouse the woods, I had been worried, admittedly. The rumors and stories about monsters and fiends living out here had not been exaggerated; Noel and I had encountered many goblins, spiders the size of wolves, and the odd imp or two out here beyond the bounds of Feylake.

But, we had been out here for several years already, and we had gotten pretty accustomed to dealing with the monsters that lived out here, and they had, to some extent, learned to keep away from us. That was the point, as Noel explained to me; living among the monsters would have us fighting them constantly, which was much more educational than beating on stuffed dummies. We also learned to keep our calm while living and even sleeping when surrounded by enemies.

“You know, I could have sworn our plan had this thing ending a lot more smoothly than that.” I said, wiping some black blood off my sword with the apron I wore before sheathing it and leaning it against the wall, then removing the apron and tossing it onto Noel's shoulder.

“Well, you know what they say. 'The first casualty in was is the plan.'” Noel replied. She kicked the wall sharply, and the folding table built into it fell out, legs unfolding, and it slammed into the floor. She set the case on the table and wiped her hands on my apron and tossed it out the window.

“Who says that?” I ask as I pull the bowtie off my neck, unbutton my vest, and untuck my shirt. My disguise had been flawless and allowed me to infiltrate the ranks of the Castle Feylake servers with no issue, though after that episode, there was no way it would work again. “And besides that, we aren't at war. This may be considered an act of war, but we aren't actually[i] at war.”

“Well, who cares? Never mind, sit down.” Noel waved off my protests easily and pulled up a chair at the table, and I begrudgingly sat opposite her. “Now behold, the greatest masterpiece Castle Feylake's kitchens have ever produced!” While she made that grandoise exclamation, Noel removed to lid from the case to reveal... something.

The contents had doubtlessly, at one point, been called a cake. That term was no longer fit to describe the crumbled, destroyed mixture of spongy bread and frosting that was currently contained there. It seemed cakes were not built to withstand high-speed escapes and acrobatic escapes.

As I sat there and simply stared at our destroyed prize, Noel excitedly started dishing the 'food' up into bowls. She slid one across the table to me, along with a spoon, and I could feel a part of me dying as I prepared to eat. [i]This isn't how cakes were meant to be enjoyed...

“Mmm, that's good!” Noel exclaimed as she took the first bite. “That crusty old cook finally did something worthwhile with his time!”

I tentatively picked my share over before cautiously taking a bite. Just as Noel said, a mess as it was, it was still cake in a previous life, and good cake at that. “By the way, I'm pretty sure that was some kind of important trade negotiation going on in there. You don't think we messed it up, do you?”

Noel regarded me over the table, then swallowed her cake, leaned forward, and jabbed her spoon at me. “Bod, you're a sharp kid, and you've learned a lot, but what I'm about to tell you may be one of the most important, profound things you've heard in your life. Are you ready?”

I blinked, surprised by the sudden serious atmosphere. Hesitantly, I nodded, carefully listening.

“Cake is a powerful thing. It may rule the hearts of men, but not the minds. Alliances are not forged or broken over cake, but cake is forged and devoured over alliances.”

Again, I blinked, unsure how to react. She was talking utter nonsense, but she had delivered it with such a calm, serious look that I was a little torn on how to take it. After a second, the sheer silliness became unbearable and I broke out into laughter. “Wha-wha, cake is a powerf... What does that even mean?!” I cried through the fits of laughing, wiping tears out of my eyes.

Noel shrugged. “I dunno. Seemed like the thing to say.” She said, then grinned, pushing her bowl back and standing up. “Well, forget the cake for now. We'd better start getting ready.”

Finally getting my laughter under control, I cocked my head to the side. “Ready? For what?” I asked.

Noel raised an eyebrow and looked down at me like the answer was the most obvious thing in the world. “Ready to leave, of course.”

“Leave?” I repeated, “Leave... where? Are we going somewhere?”

Noel sighed. “Bod, are you telling me you forgot?” She asked, and at my blank stare she rolled her eyes. “Leave. Like, leave. Fight the goblins, go on adventures, never look back? The whole reason we're together? Is this ringing any bells?”

My blank stare turned to one of shock. My eyes widened and my mouth almost hung open. “Oh.” I said simply. Oh, that leave.

Honestly, that had almost been buried in the back of mind for a while now. Since that day Noel and I met on the riverbed, she had been leading me on all kinds of crazy, day-to-day adventures; running errands for the castle, helping the local store owner, putting a wandering ghost to rest, working in the mines in the swamp. She had brought me along for plenty of mischief as well, all sorts of childish, juvenile pranks, like hiding all the chickens in town, painting random cobblestones on the road and whipping doomsayers into a frenzy over it, or stealing the Duke's cake.

“Leave... Like, you mean, now?” I asked after a long silence. After so long of waiting, it seemed altogether too sudden to just spring it on me like this.

Noel shrugged. “I was thinking about doing it tomorrow. I could use a good night's sleep before going.”

“B-but...” I was at something of a loss for words. Feylake, the castle, the woods, the fields, the monsters, our little treehouse. We were going to leave it all behind? It was true, this was what I had originally set out to do that day, but after so long of waiting, and of living here... I found it hard to bear the thought of leaving it all behind. “But I... I don't... I want to--”

I froze as Noel put her pale hand on my shoulder. Her crisp violet eyes bore into mine, and although her presence was firm, her expression was soft. I could tell it all just from looking at her; she understood, she knew the struggle I would have in letting go, but she wouldn't allow it to stop me. “You're too good, Bod.” She said quietly, “You're too good to let you sit here in this tiny town forever. It's time to move on.”

I met her gaze for several long seconds. I could feel excitement rising up at the prospect of finally setting out, but it was nearly drowned out by reluctance to leave. Everything we had been through here, my entire life up to now came flooding back. The good times, the bad, the time spent alone, longing to leave, and with Noel, preparing to go. It all came back to me, and knew I had to let it go. Finally, I nodded wordlessly, and Noel smiled, releasing my shoulder and going to her side of the treehouse, starting to sort through her things and decide what to take. I watched her for a second, then went to my side and did the same.

“What about the armor?” I asked after a while of packing in silence. Along with a couple swords and some other gear, we had brought the old suit of armor from the crypt up to the treehouse with us. We had to smuggle it out under cover of darkness, and being just children at the time, we had to take it piece by piece over the course of a week. We had cleaned it, scraped the rust off, and polished it, then stood it up in the corner of the treehouse, where it would wait until one of us grew big enough to wear it.

Noel stood by the armor and regarded it. It was still noticeably taller than her, and as slender as she was, there was no way she would be able to use the heavy armor effectively. “Well, not me.” She said at last, then glanced at me. Even all these years later, I was still a full head shorter than Noel, much to my annoyance. “No...” She finally sighed, “Well, it'll do no good to us if we can't wear it.”

“So, what, we sell it?” I ask. Once cleaned, it turned out to be a fairly nice suit of armor, and it would probably get us a good deal of money we could use on the road.

“N-no! No... Let's just... leave it. You might still grow into it.” Noel said, putting on a strained smile. It was a lie. She knew it was a lie. I knew it was a lie. She knew I knew it was a lie. I could still grow some, but unless I was secretly half giant, there was no way I was growing enough to fill that suit out. Her excuse was weak, but Noel had always been a bit leery about letting on that we essentially robbed a crypt for our equipment, and if we tried to sell the armor it would certainly raise questions.

I shrugged, deciding to leave it at that, and went back to packing. After a few more moments, though, I had another thought. “Hey, Noel.”


“Why did you decide to leave so suddenly? I mean, I know we have the plan drawn out and our supplies ready, but after we waited so long, why just all of a sudden?”

“Well... I figured it would be better to leave soon, before the Duke's men come into the forest looking for us.”

“Huh?” The Duke's men? Sure, we had been a bit of a nuisance to the town sometimes with our mischievous ways and frequent shenanigans, and since we had moved out here we were basically wild people living in monster infested woods that only came to town to cause trouble. But we didn't really do anything serious, and even with our latest ruckus raised at the castle I doubted the Duke's men would bother searching through the dangerous woods to find us over a cake. “Do you really think they'll be coming for us soon?”

“Well...” Noel paused, thinking. “The Duke's probably been getting tired of all the complaints from the people about us. And after today, when we snuck into his castle, stole his cake, lit his bedchambers on fire, interrupted his negotiations...”

“Wait, what?!” I cried, interrupting her. “Lit his-- we didn't light anything on fire! Did--” I stopped, feeling a sinking feeling in my stomach. I ran to the window carved into the wall and leaned out the treehouse. Sure enough, I could see a pillar of smoke and a faint glow red rising up from the castle. “Noel...” I groaned, looking back at her.

She shrugged, grinning, clearly not bothered in the least. “Well, I needed a diversion to get past the guards. As a bonus, it covered our escape and kept the guards too busy to chase us. It was a pretty solid move, I'd say.”

I sighed, slinking back to my backpack on the floor and going back to shoving things into it. Well, there was no going against it now, they were going to cut down the forest and conscript mercenaries to fight the monsters just to find us if they had to, but we wouldn't be welcome here any longer.

The next morning found us at that same bridge I had tried to cross all those years ago when we first met. Compared to my woven grass armor and whittled down stick from back then, the soft leather padding I wore now and the steel sword hanging at my hip definitely felt much sturdier and more secure. Noel wore a white, knee-length skirt over black leggings, and a grey shirt, with her short sword was strapped to her back loosely.

We both stood beside each other at the base of the bridge, staring down the guard that watched over it. It was the same man who had broken my 'sword' and turned me away back then. I was still convinced he was working with the goblins. “Do you wish to pass?” He asked.

“You know full well we want to pass, you traitorous scum! Now stand aside or I'll cut you down like the rest of your ilk!”

It took a deep effort, but I managed to keep myself from shouting what was on my mind. We had agreed to let Noel do the talking, after all. She had said I'd be more likely to give away our new position as fugitives. It seemed like a useless effort to me, since the entire town knew who we were, what we looked like, and all the guards would certainly have been informed of our recent deeds and on the look for us. But, she had just winked and said she would take care of it.

Noel politely bowed her head and smiled at the guard. “We do.” She answered.

“And you are aware of the dangers on the other side of the bridge? From here on, it's goblin territory until you reach the outskirts of Varen.”

Noel nodded again. “We take full responsibility for ourselves past this point.”

The guard watched us for a couple seconds, almost seeming to recognize us, but then stepped aside. “Very well, you may pass.”

We walked past him, and we were halfway across the bridge when I heard a struggle behind me. While I was crossing the bridge, Noel had crept up behind the guard, and I turned just in time to see her tip him over the bridge into the river. We both ran to the side to watch as he surfaced, looked at us, seething, and began swimming back to shore.

Noel grinned and grabbed my hand, tugging me away and leading the way across the bridge. “Run!” She said merrily, pulling me behind her as she crossed the bridge and set foot in the goblin lands.

I followed her, unable to hide my own merriness, far outweighing the doubt from yesterday. At last, our adventure was beginning in earnest.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:23 am

Noel is trouble with a capital T XD Cant wait to see where this goes.
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Location: Still lost in my own head

Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:27 am

What's this, on time three weeks in a row? I think that's a record. *ahem* And now returning to our regularly scheduled program...

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Eighth: An Intervention, Familial Ties, and a New Adventure

Chop! The axe I wield cuts right through another block of dry wood, cutting it down to a burnable size. The pieces fall into small piles on either side of the tree trunk used for chopping, and I take another piece of wood from the stack to my side and prepare it for chopping.

Taking a brief pause before chopping the next piece, I wearily straighten my back, trying to work the aching out of it from the day's work. I've been chopping firewood for the Zid Caina inn since early morning, and it's almost noon now. The proprietor doesn't pay quite as much gold as some other places in town, but he throws in a hot meal to top the payment off, so that's a win in my book. Plus, considering the time we trashed his rented room, I really can't complain.

I look out into the fields bordering the town and, in the distance, I can see Hale and Galley fighting wolves near the Skyway portal. The two of them have... gotten used to each other, at least. Hale still refuses to stop calling Galley “it,” as if he were some sort of item, and Galley still hasn't picked up on the cold hatred he got from the human girl, but they've at least stopped having room-destroying clashes and can hold short conversations. Usually.

It's been a month since our failed dragon hunt. After that catastrophe, we've mostly been sitting around, doing small, easy jobs to build up some funds for our group. We don't have a real goal in mind just yet, but we figure the gold will be good to have if something comes up and we need new equipment. Or, if we need to bail Galley out of jail for indecent exposure and disturbing the peace. Which we have. Twice.

Putting aside our losses stemming from our teammate's unfortunate habit of attempting to throw impromptu “par-tay's,” we've managed to build up a nice little stockpile of gold from chopping wood, making deliveries, and taking on small hunts to exterminate local nuisance monsters. Small work, for small pay, but we're small time adventurers, and this beats getting stomped by a dragon.

“Working hard again, I see.” A voice behind me snaps me out of my thoughts and I realize I had zoned out looking into the fields. I turn around and see Nila, the innkeeper's niece, standing there and watching me with a slightly accusatory, but still playful look, as if saying “Yeah, I caught you slacking off.” She holds a tray with a single glass of lemonade on it.

“Uncle told me to bring this to you. Said you're probably about ready to drop from the heat.” She extends the tray to me and I take the drink, sipping it slowly, feeling the sweet drink restore my energy.

“Thanks.” I say after a few sips, then turn to look back out to the fields where my teammates are fighting.

“They're going at it hard today, too, huh?” Nila asks from beside me, and I nod.

“They may be troublemakers, but as long as they can blow off steam fighting animals and still bring in some money, they're all right to have around.” I say.

“Well, you've certainly livened up the inn, that's for sure.” Nila says. Following our incident with the dragon, we came to Zid Caina for work, choosing it for it's peaceful nature and temperate weather. It beat the sandstorms in Edea, at least. We've been staying in the inn since, since it's comfortable and relatively cheap. Although our room came with a warning that if we wrecked the place again, we'd be facing a permanent ban.

“And besides,” Nila continues, smirking, “I think you like those guys more than you're willing to admit.”

“Huh? How do you figure that?” I ask, draining the last of my lemonade and handing her the empty glass, which she sets on the tray.

“Well, You know that saying 'you can't pick your family.'” Nila says. “Take me and the old man. When my folks died, he had to take me in since I'm his niece. But you and those two? Nothing holding you together. If you didn't like having 'em around you could just up and leave. The fact you don't tells me that isn't the case.”

I scoffed out a laugh, shaking my head and grinning at her theory. “Hey, how long are you gonna bug me? I got work to do.” Nila smirks as I turn away from her and bring the axe down on the waiting piece of deadwood, then she turns and goes back to the inn, leaving me to my job.

“We need to do a dungeon!” Hale declares as we're sitting in our room for dinner that evening.

“Request denied.” I reply around a mouthful of food. We've done pretty well as model citizens this past month, and I really don't want to go looking for trouble in it's own home.

“But we've been doing nothing all month!” Hale declares, not so easily dissuaded.

“Wrong.” I counter, swallowing my food and jabbing my fork pointedly at her, “We have been working and productive all month. We've built up some money -and reputation- around town without taking any major risks.”

“But we could have gotten all that with one raid in a dungeon.” Hale says, “Click sent me to you because he said working in a party would help my skills improve. I'm not getting any better fighting wolves and giant spiders all day.”

“I'm with the little lady on this one.” Galley cut in.

“Don't call me little and don't agree with me.” Hale's jab was cold and quick, but Galley forged on, ignoring -or simply not registering- her complaints.

“This has been a seriously dull par-tay. We need a new venue and a fresh crowd to bring some life back to it.”

I sigh, setting down my eating utensils and rubbing my forehead. It's true, we really are taking about the slowest, if safest, route to building our party up, and we could do with a change of pace. Specifically, an increase in it. Given our past failures, going from a month of relative peace to a challenging dungeon seems like courting disaster, but what kind of adventurers sit around gathering wheat and hopping logs all day? Live ones, yes, but dull, too.

“Fine...” I finally breathe out, thinking for a moment. “There's supposed to be a good dungeon in the mines in a city pretty close to here. We can probably take it.”

Hale smirks, satisfied at my surrender, and Galley pumps his fists in the air. “Woohoo! We are gonna par-TAY!”

“Yeah, yeah.” I go back to my meal as the two of them share a moment of victory. “We'll leave tomorrow afternoon. Take the morning to get all your preparations made.”

Late the following afternoon saw us arriving in the mining town of Beltor. Although 'mining town' was perhaps an outdated term, since the town mostly thrived now on the commerce brought by adventurers seeking to clear the dungeon they found in their mines. Adventurers like us.

The whole town reminds me of a quarry; it was like a bowl in the earth, with several 'layers' of buildings on outcroppings of rock, with wide staircases running all the way from the top of the down to the bottom.

“Well, no sense in wasting time.” I said, beginning the descent down the the lowest level of the town – and the highest of the dungeon. Townspeople spare us passing glances as we descend toward the dungeon, but they don't seem too impressed by us. Adventurers probably come through here on a near daily basis, so one new trio isn't much to get excited over.

At the bottom of the massive staircase, we find ourselves standing before the impressive gates to the dungeon. “Bared Dungeon.” Hale reads off a sign by the entrance, “Foreboding.”

“Well, here goes.” I say, “Everybody ready? Forget anything? Did we all use the bathroom first? Good. Then lets--”

“Psst!” A hushed sound interrupted me, and we all look around for the source of the noise. “Psst! Hey! Over here!” The voice whisper-shouts at us, and we realize that someone's hiding behind a pile of rubble by the gates. “Are you adventurers? If you're going into the dungeon, I may be available to assist you.” The unseen speaker tells us.

“Who are you and why are you hiding?” I ask, crossing my arms suspiciously as I stare at the pile of rocks.

“Th-that isn't important! All you need to know is that I can help you in there. The powers of a skilled mage are a valued asset to any party!” The voice replied.

“Yep. But we've already got one person in our company who's too terrified to show her face in public. Why do we need a second?” I counter, earning a punch in the arm from Hale.

“I'm not afraid! I'm just-- I'm just being careful.” The person shouts, then catches themselves and goes back to whispering.

“Careful? What are you, a vampire? Can't be in the sunlight?” I glance back at Galley and nod toward the rubble pile, and he grins with glee, starting to tiptoe towards it.

“No! Just, you know, lots of untrustworthy people around, can't be too careful.” The speaker answers, “Some people aren't appreciative of others' work. Sometimes, a welcome gets worn out pretty early.”

“Uh-huh. You know, I've met a lot of untrustworthy people in my time. The most recent of which hides in rocks and makes sketchy offers to random passersby.”

“Bu--wha--huh?! Are you calling me untrustworthy?!” The stranger blusters, “I'm the most trustworthy person on this side of the--”

“I gotcha!” Galley shouts as he dives into the rubble, arms outstretched to grasp the person. As soon as he hits the rocks the speaker leaps out of their cover and runs toward us to avoid the crashing giant.

“What are you doing, you lumbering neanderthal?!” The person shouts, “You could have crushed me you witless oaf! What do you think makes--”

“Short stuff!!” Hale cries as she darts forward. The stranger glances back to see Hale charging, but is too slow to get out of the way in time and is tackled to the ground, put in a headlock, and subjected to a vicious noogie.

“Aaaahhh!! Stoppit! Get offa me stupid!” Hale's captive cries as he lashes and kicks, struggling in vain to get free.

“You little crook! What'd you do this time?!” Hale demands, “I swear if you stole something again, I'm gonna ship you off to mom and dad--”

“Thief!” I exclaim, pointing as I realize just who the newcomer was. Through the dust they kick up their scuffle, I recognize the victim of Hale's animosity to be the pickpocket that had failed to take my money back in Edea the day we fought the dragon. Rather than the dirty, ragged clothes he had when we first met, he has a cleaner set in the colorful local style, but the turban I gave him is still wrapped around his head.

“Oh no, not you again!” The urchin exclaims upon seeing me, “What are you doing here?! More to the point, why is that robe here? Are you some kinda masochist?!”

“It's... beautiful!” Hale says, jerking back on the urchin's head and bending his spine further than it was probably intended to.

“Aaah! You're gonna break my back! Lemme go!” The urchin exclaims, and Hale finally releases the poor boy, leaving him on the ground, giving him a moment to make sure all his faculties still functioned.

“Of all the no-good, rotten little...” Hale mutters as she watches the urchin get back on his feet, arms crossed in disgust.

“So I take it you two know each other?” I ask, approaching the pair of them.

“Unfortunately.” Hale confirms.

“This uncivilized, brutish barbarian is my lousy old sister.” The urchin says as he gets back to his feet.

“Ooh, I can't wait to hear all about Click's other cousin!” I exclaim, feigning enthusiasm, “I'm sure you must take after him, what with all your failed petty thievery, and hiding in rocks to yell at strangers!”

“Yeah, about that. When did you learn magic?” Hale asks, “You get apprenticed to some old wizard while I wasn't looking?

“Hmph!” The urchin dusts himself off and straightens his clothes out, “For your information, I taught [/i]myself![/i] I found an old book and some supplies, and--”

“'Found.' Sounds legal.” Hale cut it, getting a glare from her brother.

“Whatever!” The questionably magical urchin exclaims, “Just go on to the dungeon and get killed. Don't let me stop you!”

“Oooooh no, no you don't.” Hale argues, “You think I'm gonna turn you loose on the property of these poor people? Think again. You're coming with us.”



The urchin and I both ask Hale, “Why do I have to come with you?!” The urchin presses, “I'm sick of just being in the same region as you and Mr. Fashion sense over there!”

“Well, too bad!” Hale says, “You're coming so I can keep an eye on you and make sure you don't go indulging in extra-legal activities!”

“That's a joke!” The urchin laughs, as he puts his hands on his hips, “And how are you gonna make me come along with you? I could take off running now and you'd never catch me.”

Hale just smirks, tossing her head and laughing heartily. “Simple, my dear, brain-dead sibling. I have a thing.

“A wha--” The urchin begins, then turns in horror just in time to see Galley reaching down and grabbing him, wrapping his giant arms around the boy in a massive bear hug.

“Welcome aboard, little guy!” The giant exclaims merrily as the urchin tries, in vain, to escape. “Two is company, and three's a crowd, but four is a PAAAR-TAY!”
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:34 am

*dying laughing* Its beautiful Odd, just beautiful XDD
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:19 am

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Ninth: The Worst Dungeon, The Longest Kite, and The Greatest Power

And so, with our unexpected fourth party member still held captive by Galley, and Hale crossing her arms and muttering angrily, we enter Bared Dungeon.

Bared is known to be a tougher dungeon than Arbie, by a long shot, so once we actually get into battle Galley will have to release our reluctant extra member, but by that point the dungeon will be sealed and it'll be too late to run.

We walk in relative silence for a while, through the dark, mostly featureless corridors of the mine-turned-dungeon, waiting until we encountered something dangerous.

While we walk, I glance at Hale, beside me, still fuming. “So, um... you never mentioned you had a brother.” I say casually, trying to break the silence.

Hale looked at me coldly for a moment, “I don't.” She said flatly, then turned her gaze back ahead.

I wince a bit and chuckle awkwardly, recognizing a case of embittered siblings. It was a serious case when the one didn't even want to acknowledge their relation to the other. I think for a few moments before opening my big mouth again, “So... How's that work? I mean, you're a human, but he's a full blood elf. And you're siblings? What's the story...” My sentence tapers off as Hale turns her gaze on me again, and I can tell she's in no mood to talk about it, so I shut up in a hurry and keep walking.

We're saved from more awkward silence as we finally enter a wide room with a chest in the center, and splitting the path in two to either side of the room.

“Right, this is what we're here for.” I say, drawing my control bars from my belt and shrugging my shoulders to ease the stiffness from the ride out of them. “Galley, keep holding our little friend until the doors shut.” I add, and Galley nods the affirmative.

I kneel down in front of the chest, control bars in hand, and glance up to see everyone else. Galley's holding the urchin still, but he's tensed up and ready to fight. Hale's off to the side of the room, swinging one sword through the air as a warm-up while she draws her other.

“Everybody ready?” I ask, and they both look at me and nod. “All right. In three... two... one.” At the end of the countdown I flick the lid of the chest open, and before I can get a look at the contents I hear the monsters appearing all over the room, and the gate to the pathway we came in through slams shut.

“Goblins!” Hale says, identifying our enemies in a flash before she rushes through the room, swinging her swords in a deadly whirlwind, slicing all the little monsters she reaches.

“PAR-TAY!!” Galley shouts, tossing the urchin to the side and drawing his mana pistols, firing rapidly to either side of him.

The urchin twists himself in the air and manages to roll upon landing, springing up to his feet once he had lost some momentum. “Can't believe I got myself into this...” I hear him griping as he draws a wand from his belt and starts focusing his mana into it.

I, for my part, jump on top of the chest and then forward, toward Galley, landing foot-first on one unfortunate goblin while smacking his equally-unfortunate friend with a control bar as I pass him. A third goblin charges me, knife raised to stab me, but I'm a step ahead and mana strings reach out from my control bars, wrapping around the monster and holding him immobilized.

“Goblins are weak, but their knives are vicious!” I call as the battle begins in earnest and my mana strings slowly choke the life out of the goblin I've caught, “Don't let them get too close!”

“Gee, thanks boss!” The urchin -whose name I really should learn- calls, voice dripping in sarcasm as he sends a fireball into a cluster of the beasts, exploding on contact and sending burned and charred monsters in all directions. “I never woulda thought of that, what would we do without you?”

“Par-TAY!” Galley shouts as he reloads his pistols and sends another barrage of fire into our foes, and I really can't tell if he's trying to join the discussion or just yelling for yelling's sake.

The battle doesn't last long and we make it out mostly without a scratch between us. We scoop up the meager loot from the chest and the goblins, and out of the corner of my eye I see the urchin sneaking toward the gate we entered through.

“Don't bother.” I call to him, “Those gates are shut good. Only way out now is to clear the dungeon, or get yourself horribly mangled by some beasties and pulled out by Noel's grace. And unless you were looking to get a pummeling from some goblins, the only way is to work with us.”

The urchin glares at me angrily, then makes a break for the door. He slams against it and pushes on it, but all his efforts amount to naught, as the doors refuse to so much as budge. The urchin growls in annoyance, then spins around to look at me. “I get a share of the loot!” He declares.

I shrug, “Sure, it's only fair.” I answer. “Now...” I look to either side of the room, where the two paths forward have opened up. “Two roads and only one party. I'd not recommend splitting up, so we'd better pick a path and get moving.”

The dungeon turns out to be much, much longer than any of us expected, and we slog on through endless corridors and dozens of battles, pushing ahead for hours. By this point, we've fought not just goblins, but imps, spiders, vampiric bats, and more spiders. I almost got my arm bitten off by a mimic, too, at one point, but the chest-like monsters got very intimately acquainted with the striking end of my control bars before he did any real damage. We're all exhausted, so I call for a breather once we reach an empty room.

Hale and the urchin collapse to the ground, both breathing heavily and wiping sweat from their faces, while Galley and I gather some wooden beams, probably meant to be used as tunnel supports but never installed, and break them up into firewood. It's not that it's cold in the dungeon or we need to cook something, nothing like that. It's just that campfires are so restful and calming it's nice to start one when you're out on an adventure and getting tired out.

Once we're all settled in around the fire, we all pull food out of our bags and have a light meal, even the urchin, who had to mooch off his sister's supplies.

“By the way,” I say between mouthfuls of bread, “I never caught your name, kid. Can't keep calling you urchin or street rat all the time.”

“You haven't called me street rat.” The urchin says flatly.

“No, but I'll start, as a substitute for your name.” I say.

The urchin glares at me for a few seconds, then sticks his tongue out at me mockingly. Hale swiftly cuffs her brother on the back of the head, and he glares at her before finally answering. “It's Echo.”

“Echo.” I repeat, thinking for a moment. “Hm, yeah. It'll do. Good to have you along. For now.”

After a few minutes of eating and catching our breath, we kick the burning sticks around to kill the fire and quickly check our equipment and supplies. We're starting to run low on medical supplies, and Echo admits that he doesn't know any healing magic, and the little I know won't keep the party running for long, so we'll have to be conservative from here on out.

“How much more partying you think we gotta do?” Galley asks, his guns clicking as if to punctuate his question.

“I doubt there's much more.” I answer, wiping a smear of goblin blood and spider webs off a control bar. “We've been through... what, three floors already? Most dungeons in Prism aren't renowned for being too long, so I bet we're close to the end.”

“We'd better be.” Echo says, gulping back a mana potion and grimacing at the sour taste.

“What, is it past the widdle baby's bedtime?” Hale asks as she scraped the edges of her swords together to hone the edges and tosses her hood back over her head.

“No.” Echo retorts sharply, “I'm just getting sick of looking at our great and mighty leader's robe.”

It isn't long before I'm cursing myself for not putting money on that bet, because after clearing another typical room full of monsters, a large key drops in the middle of the room. “That's the boss key.” I say, examining it. It's blood-red in color and more ornate than the standard keys we've found that just opened the way forward, but the biggest difference was the size; it was almost as thick as my forearm, and easily as long.

I nod to Galley, and the giant picks up the large key and stuffs it in his pocket, and we continue on with the dungeon. Just a couple floors later, we find the lock the key was meant for.

A giant lock suspended by chains that wrap around the door to the boss room, hanging high enough that Galley is the only one who could reach it without assistance. With the size of the keys and the height of some things, it's almost like these dungeons were designed solely for giants.

“Well, here goes nothing.” I say, motioning for Galley to open the door. He places the key in the lock and turns it, then hops back and draws his pistols as chains begin dropping and the door moves up into the ceiling with a noisy rumble.

I summon my marionette in a puff of smoke, and the puppet snaps to imitation-life as my mana strings connect and bring it to its feet. Hale advances in the lead, with my marionette beside her, Galley, guns raised, is next to me, and Echo is in the back, ready to start slinging spells.

The boss room is a wide open chamber, much larger than the other rooms in the dungeon. Devoid of any furnishings, chests, or inhabitants aside from the half-dozen large, hulking ogres milling about. Each of the beasts is larger than a giant, with one, doubtlessly the leader, towering above the rest. Each ogre is adorned with massive plate-mail armor and holds a giant sledgehammer.

The monsters don't seem to have noticed us yet, so I hold a hand up for silence. “Let's start with the isolated ones; see if we can pick them off one by one.” I say, and the others nod in affirmative.

We creep to the corner of the room, where one of the brutes is standing alone, scratching his head as he stares into the corner. We move in within about ten yards of the monster before we pause again, Hale looks at my marionette, and I make the puppet give a little nod, signaling the attack.

Hale is a powerful, if still inexperienced swordswoman, and her agility and precision with two blades is nothing to overlook. And while it may lack in that finely-honed precision, my marionette is second to none in the party in terms of raw striking power. The two forces synchronizing and joining into a single sneak attack on the ogre carried impressive force, enough to reduce anything else in this dungeon to ribbons and paste.

But the ogre is made of sterner stuff, and while its thick armor turned blades, the sheer impact of the attack toppled the brute over onto its stomach, leaving it vulnerable to attack for a few precious seconds.

“Hit it, now!” I call loud enough for the party to hear, but keeping my voice restrained enough that I don't alert the rest of the ogres. Galley aims quickly and opens fire on the downed ogre, while lines of ice shards cut through the air to strike into the behemoth. Hale goes into a series of quick, brutal slashes on one side of the ogre, while my marionette pummels the other side.

Between the four of us, we hit hit the monster with an impressive amount of firepower, but it becomes clear that it isn't meant to be that easy as the ogre climbs to it's knees and begins a counterattack. It starts with a few wild swings of its sledgehammer, which Hale manages to weave and dodge through unharmed, but I have to pull my marionette back to keep it from getting smashed.

For a follow-up attack, taking advantage of the brief break in attacks as Galley reloads, Echo re-casts, and Hale tries to find a chance to leap back into the thick of it, the ogre takes his hammer in both hands and swings it down with crushing force at the black-robed swordswoman. Hale leaps to the side, narrowly avoiding the attack, and is immediately forced into a series of dodges to avoid being smashed as the monster focuses solely on her with its attacks.

I watch for an opening to help, then send my marionette charging in, and it slams into the side of the unsuspecting ogre with cleaver and hammer. But, the ogre seems unfazed by the attack, as it reaches down and takes my marionette in its huge, powerful hands, tosses it into the air, and then hits it with a well-aimed swing of its sledgehammer.

The marionette is sent flying back our way, and it hits Galley with enough force to send him soaring away as well. “Tsk.” Annoyed, I roll to the side and stow my control bars in my belt, drawing my backup weapon; an elven longbow, specially crafted with an elongated upper limb and a second shelf, allowing it to fire two arrows at once.

I draw a pair of arrows from my quiver, knock them and set them on the twin rests, then let them fly. I aim for a nearly impossible shot; hoping to put an arrow through each of the eye slits in the ogre's helmet, but predictably they don't fly quite true and just scrape off the thick plates of armor. Still, it's enough to distract the beast, and it steps back, covering its eyes reflexively to defend from further projectiles.

“It's too strong!” I call to Hale, who is getting ready to launch into another string of attacks, “Let's retreat for now. If it follows us, we can kite it!” Drawing the ogre back with us through the corridors of the dungeon, pelting it with ranged attacks while staying just out of reach; a tactic known as 'kiting.' While it's a standard tactic for any adventuring party, most dislike it simply because it's long, arduous, and often less exciting than mixing it up face to face with the enemy. But in this case, I'll allow it.

Hale nods, then takes a few steps back from the ogre, watching it before she turns her back to it and run to meet up with us. Between the three of us, we somehow manage to pull Galley onto his feet and then take off back the way we came. The ogre, predictably, follows us, and the game of cat-and-mouse begins.

We try and stay a good distance from the ogre; close enough that it doesn't get smart and give up the chase, but still far enough that it can't reach us, and each of our ranged fighters can get a full round off at it before turning and running again. A couple times, we misjudge the distance, and Hale has to hold the ogre off for a few seconds so we can get a head start, but for the most part things progress smoothly; a standard kiting run.

It takes a whole half hour of our shoot, run, repeat tactic, but finally the ogre goes down, armor chipped and scorched, with dozens of arrows sticking out of the joints, making it look like a giant iron pincushion.

We gather around the monster cautiously, each ready to unleash a flurry of attacks and then retreat if it begins moving, but it doesn't. “Phew.” I sigh, arching my back and rotating my shoulder to work the soreness and fatigue from it. Most people assume that elven bows are naturally lighter and easier to use than others, but the reality is that with firing two arrows, it's on a whole different level than a wimpy little human bow.

“That's one.” Hale says, giving the ogre a little kick.

“One down, yeah. And five to go.” Echo says bitterly.

“Well, we got this one, we can just use the same tactic on the rest.” I say, shrugging in resignation. “It sucks, and it'll take an hour or two, but it's all we can do. Can't match the things in a melee.”

“Uh, yeah. Snag here.” Galley says, and we all turn to look at him. The giant holds up one of his pistols and pulls the trigger, but it just clicks pitifully. “I'm totally dry on mana.”

“Same.” Echo says, reaching into Hale's pack and snatching a blue potion. “And this is the last mana potion we've got.” He says, before uncorking the bottle and upending the mixture into his mouth.

“Hey, you little thief! That was mine!” Hale exclaims, snatching the empty bottle from her brother.

Echo just shrugs, “You weren't using it.”

I sigh, shaking my head as I rustle the quiver on my back. From the sound of it, I used about two thirds of my arrows on that one ogre. “Well, we'll just have to make do.” I say, “Kite the next one to weaken it for as long as we can, then hit it full-force up close. For the other three, we'll just have to get creative.”

The others are reluctant to agree, but with no other choice presenting itself that's the only plan we've got. So, we make the long walk back to the boss room in silence, plodding along slowly, partly to give the casters time to recover some mana, but mostly out of sheer discouragement.

The fight with the second ogre opens much like the first; Hale and Galley -pistols swapped for his massive two-handed sword- hit the ogre from behind, while Echo and I start pelting it with ranged damage. We start our fighting retreat immediately, drawing the monster into the tunnels of the dungeon. Once we're ready, Galley swaps back to his guns and joins the ranged attackers, and the battle proceeds just like the previous one.

Until we run out of ammunition.

Galley runs out first, I don't even need him to tell me, the click, click of his empty guns says it all. A few seconds later, all Echo's firing is sparks and snowflakes, and he tucks his wand away in annoyance. Next, I fire my last pair of arrows, and we're down to close combat.

The ogre doesn't look as worn-out as I'd hoped, and is really just getting mad at this point. I sigh, drawing my control bars and getting ready for the worst beating of my life. Odds do not look good for us, and at this point I'm ready to just get pummeled and sent back to town.

Galley and I charge in to back up Hale, who's in a frenzy of dodging, weaving and slashing as she duels the ogre. My control bars have little effect on the monster; as much as I've modified them, they simply aren't suitable to a melee of this level, and the ogre is much too large to use my mana strings on.

While we're far from amateur fighters, the three of us aren't exactly a force to be reckoned with for this ogre on our best day, and this has been a very long, grueling day. It isn't long before the ogre manages to beat the three of us half-unconscious, tossing us aside like last week's leftovers.

Now, it's down to Echo, who has been hanging back, still at magic range, while the three of us get thrashed by the monster. Well... we gave it a good try. I think, Poor kid's not gonna like this, but we'll be good as new once we see the healer in town. I don't like it, but sometimes it's best to be a gracious loser.

Echo watches the ogre as it approaches him, raising its hammer and letting out a low, bestial laugh. Echo stands still as the monster approaches, unflinching and unafraid, or paralyzed with fear, I can't tell. When the ogre get's within striking range, Echo hangs his shoulders and lets out a long sigh, and the ogre swings the hammer down at him.

I know the poor kid isn't going to die, not with Noel watching over us, but I've recently had my suspicions confirmed that getting brained by that huge hammer hurts. I don't want to look at what comes next, but I tell myself I have to, that it's my duty as the party leader, to see this through to the end, so I fix my eyes on Echo in the final moment before the kid gets demolished by the ogre.

At the tail end of his sigh, just a fraction of a second before the hammer connects, Echo opens his eyes and swings his fist, uppercutting the ogre's hammer in what looks like a final act of defiance.

And the massive stone, easily the size of a man, that makes up the head of the hammer, explodes.

Shards and fragments of sharp, jagged stone fly in all directions as the hammer is pulverized by Echo's single punch, and, ironically, the only thing keeping me and the others from being torn to shreds by the shrapnel is the ogre's massive body between the explosion and us.



While I'm completely stunned and at a loss for words, and the ogre seems to be in a similar state, staring at his broken weapon, Echo lowers his fist down to his side, takes a deep breath, and exhales sharply.

Before the ogre can recover its senses, Echo strikes again. The urchin runs toward the wall, leaps up, takes two running strides up the wall, before leaping off at eye-level with the huge ogre. The kid throws a punch, and the ogre's head pops clean off from a single blow of Echo's bare fist.

Actually, take it back. There was nothing clean about the 'pop,' but you don't need the messy details.

Echo drops to the ground, landing on his feet, composed as can be but looking more than a little annoyed. He shakes his fists out and leans his head from side to side, cracking his neck. He looks at the three of us, still on the ground, incapacitated, and rolls his eyes. “Wait here.” He says as he walks past us back toward the boss room.

Galley, Hale and I just lie there on the floor for a few minutes in silence, trying to parse what just happened. Echo, the little, hotheaded, street urchin, failed pickpocket and possibly thief on the run, had just overwhelmed an ogre with pure brute strength, smashing the giant hunk of stone and then decapitating the monster with his bare hands.

I glance over at Hale, who was now looking more exasperated than anything else. “Does... is that a thing that happens?” I ask, hoping the sister of our unexpected hero could shed some light on the matter.

Hale shrugs, “Yeah, a little.” She says simply, offering no more explanation on the matter.

It isn't long before we hear savage roaring and howling from the direction of the boss room. It's obviously the ogres, and it sounds an awful lot like they're in pain.

We wait a while longer in a tense silence until, finally, Echo comes striding back down the hall to meet us. “All right, you lazy bums, on your feet. Boss' dead, we win, yaaay.” His voice is devoid of actual enthusiasm, and he really sounds more irritated than ever.

Hurriedly, we climb to our feet and limp along with Echo, who leads the way back to the boss room. Sure enough, once we get there, we see the bodies of the remaining four ogres, flung in random directions across the room.

Echo makes no move to acknowledge the carnage that he has wrought and left in his wake, and instead walks straight to the treasure room on the other end of the chamber.

An oddly somber silence covers the four of us as we pick a chest, take the key sitting on top of our designated loot-holder, and open the top of them to find our hard-earned treasure.

We all get small piles of a thousand gold, give or take, which is pretty standard for a dungeon. In addition, Galley finds a pair of boots too small for him, Hale gets a dagger and a scroll used to enchant items, I receive a pair of silk weaving gloves, and Echo finds--

“A drum.” The urchin says flatly as he pulls the instrument – complete with drumsticks – out of his chosen chest. “Hooray.” It's a single drum, with a harness that looks like it fastens around the torso and would stay suspended around the lower half of the wearer's belly.

“Oh, right.” I say, remembering the last dungeon we cleared, when it was just me and Hale. At the end, she had said we needed to celebrate, and wanted to play a tune on her newly-bought, outrageously expensive lute. I promised her we would play something the next time we cleared a dungeon, and I remembered to bring my own lute this time. I reach into my bag to retrieve the instrument, “Hey, Hale, do you want to--”

The swordswoman holds up her hand to stop me and shakes her head sadly. “Only for celebrations.” She said somberly, “This wasn't a real victory.”

I meet her eyes for a moment, then sigh and nod, “Yeah, you're right.” I agree. We may have cleared the dungeon, but something about it felt wrong, almost like we won unfairly. “Let's... Let's just go home.”
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:33 pm

That was...interesting. XD
Beautifully written as ever. Keep up the great work!
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:18 am

Had a weekend out of town with family, and plumbing issues on arrival back home. It's hard to focus on much of anything while water is steadily leaking into your room. Still, got something put together here.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Tenth: Aftermath of Bared, Ties that Bind, and That Which is Cool

“This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a necessary measure.” Echo complains, his voice low and harsh as he holds up his wrist. An iron shackle has been freshly locked in place there, and he tugs at the long chain hanging from it.

“I disagree.” Hale says, crossing her arms. “If we don't keep you on a leash, you'll just go and burglarize the whole of Aelid. No, no, little thief of mine, you're not getting that chance.”

Echo growls at his sister's firm accusations, “You can't do this to me, stringing me up like a criminal!You don't have the authority--”

“Hey, hey. Interjection.” I cut in, raising my hand out in front of me. “I'm not denying the necessity of locking up thieves, but... why me?” I point to my own wrist, where an identical iron shackle is tightly clasped. The chain hanging from it connects me to Echo's.

“You're the party leader, you have responsibility for those under you.” Hale answers, as if it was just a foregone conclusion.

“I don't want any part of your stupid party!”

“I have several objections.”

Echo and I both protest, but are silenced, begrudgingly, by a sharp glare from Hale. “But he's your brother, why don't you chain yourself up with him?” I ask.

Hale pulls her hand out from the folds of her robes and shows us a small metal key. “Someone has to carry this.” She says plainly.

Echo lunges for the key right away, and Hale kicks me and sends me flying back, pulling Echo with me as the chain goes taut. Hale returns the key to its place on her person.

“Once we can trust our unfortunate little outlaw to behave, I'll set the two of you loose.” Before we can protest from our new spots, sprawled in the dirt, Hale turns and walks us, leaving us alone with our chain.

“Soon as I get that key, those charges are going from burglary to manslaughter.” Echo grumbles, pulling himself off the ground and glaring at his sister as she recedes into the buildings of Beltor.

I remain lying on the ground, staring up at the sky and letting out a deep sigh. My wrist hurts. How had this gone so wrong?

As soon as we left Bared dungeon, Galley had run off into the town, shouting something about finding a par-tay, while Hale had made a beeline for the blacksmith, bringing me and Echo along. I thought we were just going for routine equipment maintenance until the shackles were being clapped on.

I look up to see Echo struggling against his restraints. First, he tries pulling on the chain, biting at it. Then he pulls out his wand and starts trying to magic the thing off. Ice shards ping ineffectually off the iron, a stream of fire does nothing but heat the metal.

“It's no use, she probably had the thing enhanced against magic.” I say, “There's no point in-- Wait, wait, don't--!” Too late, I see energy crackling around the tip of Echo's wand. I reach up to stop him, but I'm not quick enough as he blasts the chain with a small bolt of lightning.

Instantly, waves of electricity wash over me, completely paralyzing, every muscle in my body tenses and my joints freeze. After a few seconds, the jolt fades away, and I'm left, twitching, on the ground.

I turn my head toward Echo, who has been floored by the electric current, and grimace. “Metal... conducts... electricity.” I say past my numb mouth. Echo just nods slowly.

“That's one of the most basic points of magic use.” I say after another moment, as feeling returns to my body and I can force myself to sit up. “Didn't anybody even teach you that?”

Echo moves his eyes to meet my gaze. “Nobody taught me anything. I learn it myself. And I've just learned not to use electricity on metal.” He tugs again on the chain, completely unaffected by his magical barrage. “Not that it does me much good now, though.”

So, he really is completely self-taught? I can't help but be a little impressed. Magic is no easy thing to learn on your own, especially through trial and error, and the level of skill Echo showed in the dungeon was impressive, considering his methods.

“Why don't you just hit it?” I ask, prompting a questioning look from Echo. “You popped an ogre's head off with a single punch. A little chain can't really be that tough for you. Instead of magic, why not just punch the shackles off.”

Echo hesitates, then crosses his arms and turns away. “It's not cool enough...” He mutters under his breath.

“Come again?” I ask, cupping a hand over my ear for emphasis.

Echo turns back, face flushed. “It's not cool enough!” He repeats defensively.

I can't help but stare at the urchin for a moment in stunned silence, and he seems to take that as an invitation to elaborate. Which he does. “Look, anyone can just punch something. Everyone has two fists and knows how to swing 'em. Nobody becomes a legend from just punching their enemies! You know who get all the cool stories about them?” I don't have time to menion several famous warrior-monks before he forges on. “Mages, that's who! Wizards, magicians, sorcerers! The people who can bend reality to their will! They're the ones people want to hear about! When was the last time someone got more famous by punching a monster than a wizard did by throwing a fireball at it?!”

I really have to think long and hard to understand that and try to come up with a response. “So... You don't use your... Y'know, hoo, ha, wah-” I throw a couple of mock punches in he air to demonstrate, “Because... Magic is more cool?”

“Yeah, so what?” Echo answers.

I pause, taking a deep breath. “Nothing.” I say in a small, strained voice. “Nothing at all.”

Why are the only people I meet idiots and weirdos?!

“Anyways...” I force my inner voice down to silence. “Hale's long gone, there's no point wearing these things any more.” Ignoring Echo's inquisitive look, I pull a lockpick from my pocket and go to work. In seconds, I've loosed my shackle and dropped it, motioning for Echo to come closer so I can do the same to his.

Once the chains hit the ground, I roll them up and drop them in my backpack while Echo rotates his stiff wrist around. “There. Just don't let your sister see you free. We'll have to stick 'em back on before we meet back up, or she'll have our hides.”

Echo slowly nods, staring at me, eyes wide. “What? I'm plenty more competent than you give me credit for.” I say, indignant.

“Uh-huh.” Echo nods, as if only pretending to agree. The little brat clearly doesn't want to give me the satisfaction.

“Psh, whatever. Go on, get lost, scram. We'll meet up at the local inn come evening. Don't be late.” I wave him off, and the urchin slowly back away, then turns and scampers off into he town. Once he's out of sight, I let out a small sigh. Why, oh why do my teammates have to be so troublesome?

Once I'm alone, I massage my tender wrist softly for a moment. I've spent some time in shackles before, it doesn't take much to get sore in them, and long enough would scrape you raw. Hopefully we'd be able to convince Hale we don't need them soon, but it may prove impossible to reason with her. There doesn't see to be much trust between her and her brother.

Regardless of all that, there are still things that need to be done. My armor, for instance, took a nasty beating at the hands of the ogres, and I need it repaired. I'm still right next to the blacksmith from getting the shackles attached, but being right next to the dungeon, he probably charges double for his work in exchange for the convenience of being right there for an adventurer's last stop, so I head off to find a cheaper smith.

I have to trudge up to the third tier of the city before I find a blacksmith with reasonable rates. It's a small, but perfectly functional outdoor smithy, and the smith's apprentice meets me at the door. I explain I need my armor repaired, and he assures me that it can get done quickly and efficiently. I drop my armor off there and make a mental note to pick it up tomorrow morning before we leave town. The last thing I need is to walk off without my armor and return to find it pawned off to some grubby-handed adventurer looking for an upgrade.

Next is the tavern, for a warm, dry place to rest my feet and get some food. There happens to be a small one not far from the smithy, so I go there. It could be dangerous, being in an open, public place, but as long as Hale doesn't walk in and see me unchained, I should be fine. And really, something has to go my way today.

The tavern I chose is fairly scant as far as patrons go, with only a few couples and groups sitting around the main room. The scent of freshly cooked animal and vegetables cuts through the otherwise stuffy, slightly smoky ambient smell, and the smell of food makes my mouth water. I have a seat at the counter at the front of the room and order some food, asking what's been going on in town lately.

“Well... not much, I say.” The barkeep answers, smacking his lips and twirling his long mustache around a finger absently. “Lotsa you adventurin' types passin' through here for the ol' mine. Hard ta tell wha's normal and what ain't.”

I shrug nonchalantly. I hadn't expected much else; a dungeon town like this was bound to attract lots of unusual characters, most of them not much different from the last. Sometimes a traveler of particular noteworthiness would pass through, but they were often lost amidst crowds of lesser names. Mostly, I was fishing for anything happening in town, maybe a sign of work, but it seemed nothing of the sort was here.

“Lesse... A strange group came by, 'bout a week ago.” The man continues, and I give him half my attention as a serving girl sets my food on the counter and I start eating. “Yes... Strange lot. 'Bout a dozen of 'em, there was. Dark robes, all wore masks wit' funny red markin's on 'em. Right unusual. Not long after they left, another couple came in, askin' for 'em. Fella, looked pretty well traveled, if ya see me meanin'. Pair o' shooters on 'im, and a sword ta boot. Quiet fella, hardly spoke a word. Lady with 'im, nice sort. Polite. Didn't look to be the road walkin' sort. Left pretty quick, never heard of 'em afterward.”

I grunt in acknowledgment, not particularly interested anymore. I finish my meal in relative silence, uninterrupted by the other patrons. I try to stick around for a while, soak in the atmosphere a bit, listen to other conversations, but nothing worth my attention is really going on. This establishment is nice enough, but it just isn't interesting. I prefer my taverns a bit more prosperous, or a bit more seedy. Before long I scoot away from the counter, drop a few coins by my empty plate, and head back outside.

I hadn't noticed how late in the day it was getting before, but now I see the sun starting to set, quickly disappearing over the rim of Beltor's highest level. There's an inn right by the main road and stairway through the city we had decided to meet up at on the way into town, so I head that way, praying to any deity that would listen that my companions had gathered there without raising trouble.

The inn we've decided to spend the night at is of noticeably better quality than the tavern I had eaten at earlier. Smooth, sanded boards make up the exterior wall, and I can see easily into the common area through polished windows. Smoke rises from a chimney in the back, bringing smells of hearty food with it, and I can hear lively music and the loud singing of a dozen patrons from inside.

Echo intercepts me just before I reach the front door of the inn. The young urchin had been hiding around a dark corner, waiting for me. “It's about time.” He says, “Hurry up and get the chains on so we can go in; I'm starving.”

I pull our shackles out of my bag, clasping one around my wrist and one around his before we enter the inn.

Inside, the inn is bright, warm and lively. A cheerful mood sweeps over us as we enter, and several strangers raise their cups to us and shout a greeting. To my surprise, Galley is the one playing. He plucks away merrily on the lute, as large as I am, in his hands, while dancing some kind of jig and leading the patrons in a song.

Off to the side, in the far corner, I spot Hale, and the two of us lock eyes. She stares at me intently for a moment until I raise up my hand, showing the shackle still locked in place, and she nods, satisfied. I push through the tight crowd to get to Hale's table, dragging Echo along behind me.

“It's been 'showing us the song of it's people' for two hours.” Hale says as we sit down, almost shouting to be heard over the music and singing. I glance to Galley, who doesn't seem to have noticed us yet, but is as happy as can be stomping away on the tiny platform that passes for a stage while he plays, leading the energetic song into a new chorus.

“At least tell me he's getting paid for this.” I say.

“So far, it's managed to pay for dinner, a room, and two rounds for the house.” Hale answers. “Personally, I think they should have just thrown it out before it had a chance to start. My ears are weeping.”

“Oh, come on. This is one of the things we can count on Galley to not screw up.” I say. Given his carefree and happy-go-lucky personality that often drives him to disregard social rules and standards, it feels a bit odd to have ground to defend him for once, but he deserves a little slack. “He's actually not that bad. C'mon, even you have to admit he's better than you would've expected.”

“It's no use.” Echo says, grabbing a half-eaten apple off a server's tray as they walk past and taking a crunchy bite out of it. “She hates giant music. She'll refuse to admit he's good at all.”

“I like all kinds of music.” Hale argues, sitting back and crossing her arms across her chest. She jerks her head toward Galley, “I just don't like whatever soulless cacophony you call that.

Giant music, just like the people that play it, is loud, boisterous, and can very easily get on our nerves if you aren't prepared for it. I don't mind it, but I could easily see how Hale wouldn't be much of a fan. I shrug, deciding to drop the matter for now.

We sit in our own little bubble of silence for a while, not joining in the music like the rest of the inn has by this point. Echo keeps grabbing scraps of leftovers from serving trays as they pass by, stuffing himself like it's a buffet in spite of dirty looks from the servers and his sister.

Before long, Hale gives up and leaves for the bedrooms. Now that we have a party of four, and Galley earned us an extra room, we've decided to split up and take two to a room. Hale and Echo in one room, me and Galley in the next. On her way out, Hale switches the shackles from my wrist onto her own and drags her protesting brother up the stairs with her, leaving me alone at the table.

I doesn't take long before the consistently noisy music of the giants starts to grate on me, though. Still tired from the early morning and tackling the dungeon, I find that the sound of a quieter, gentler musician would be a welcome change of pace. Unfortunately, Galley shows no signs of slowing or quieting, so I decide to pack it up and get some sleep.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:52 am

I think this makes six chapters on time in a row. I must be getting better at this. Yay! *Mild confetti drops*

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Eleventh: The Return, the Search, and the Walking

The next morning goes by mostly without a hitch. I walk down to the common area of the inn only to find Galley sprawled out on the performing platform, idiotic grin plastered on his face, snoring loudly enough to drown out the music of the new bard who has come in for a morning show.

I apologize to the frustrated bard, then kick the giant awake. He stirs only slightly, waving me away with a brush of his hand. In return, I grab a chair and smack it against his head. To one his size, it feels like nothing more than a firm tapping, and he finally opens his eyes, looking around while mumbling to himself. He grins as he sees me, “Ah, Bod! Our little party leader. How did you enjoy that par-tay?”

I sigh, fighting the urge to hang my head. “Get up, we're going grocery shopping.”

“Grocery shopping,” in this case, refers to restocking our adventuring supplies after that last dungeon drained it all. We find a healer's shop not far from our inn, and as luck would have it, they're in the middle of a sale on mana potions. Convenient, since we have a new caster. We get plenty of potions, enough to last us another dungeon or two at least, and buy a pouch of pheonix feathers for reviving downed allies.

Next, we go to an arts and crafts store, where I pick up some magic wood glue for my marionette, then the blacksmith for my armor. By the time we get back to the inn, we've spent half the money we found in the dungeon.

Hale and Echo are waiting for us. As soon as we get near them, Hale grabs my wrist and slaps the iron shackle back on it. I sigh in resignation, but offer no further complaint. Now that we're all ready, we head to the edge of town, where the Skyway portal waits to be used.

The portal itself is a large round platform of stone, with a couple curves spikes rising from it. Chains attached to the tips of the spikes serve to hold a large, levitating stone in place. The stone has blue glyphs carved into it that glow as they absorb sunlight and use it as a mana source.

The four of us stand in the center of the platform. I fix the scene of the identical portal in the fields of Zid Caina I my mind, targeting it. I take a deep breath, feeling the mana heavy in the air, and close my eyes. “Warp.”

The dusty, arid air of Beltor's badlands transforms instantly into the cool, temperate breeze of Zid Caina. I open my eyes to see the fields of lush green grass replacing the endless stone and dirt from before. We all step off the portal and start heading toward the town, set on a hill a short walk away.

As we approach the outskirts of the town, where the inn lies, Nila catches sight of us and sets down the firewood she had been carrying. She waves her hands in the air to get our attention, then cups her hands to her mouth and shouts to us. “Hey guys! Hurry up!”

I exchange glances with the party and shrug, then we all break into a jog to meet with young woman. “What is it?” I ask once we reach the yard in front of the inn.

Nila shrugs and jerks a thumb inside, “My uncle was looking for you guys earlier. Dunno what he wants, though.” I look past her to the inn. Her uncle, the innkeeper? That doesn't sound good. Did we forget to pay before we left?

“Stay here... try not to break anything.” I tell the others, then go inside. I almost forget that Echo is chained to me, and I end up pulling him in with me. The front of the inn is just a small room, divided by the front counter, with a door to the innkeeper's living area behind it, and the stairs to the left. Paria, the innkeeper, sits on the other side of the counter, glancing up as we come in.

“Oh, it's you, boy.” He says. Paria is a large, heavyset man, and though he's generally very calm and civil, he can be quite intimidating if someone causes his business trouble. “Back already? The room's still open, if you want to rent it again.”

“Actually, Nila said you wanted to talk to us.”

Paria pauses, looking confused. He thinks for a moment, then seems to recall. “Ah, yes. I had mentioned it to her. The shepherd boy, Alf, came through a while ago. He was asking about you. He's probably out in the fields now.”

“Huh. All right, we'll go talk to him. Thanks.” I say, turning and leaving the inn.

“Well?” Hale asks as we re-join her and Galley.

“Shepherd kid wants to talk to us.” I say, shrugging. “Could be about work. Maybe he needs us to hunt wolves or something. Let's go and see him.”

The pasture sits just a little ways from Zid Caina, and we only have a short walk from the inn. On the fence, overseeing the grazing herds of sheep, here's a lone boy, barely past ten years old, holding a cane three times his height and wearing a cap far too large for him.

The boy looks back as he hears us approach, and smiles happily. “Hey, it's you guys.” He says.

“Alf, my little friend! It's a good day that reunites us!” Galley says, stepping forward and clapping the boy on the arm, almost throwing him from his perch on the fence. Galley, somehow, has a way with kids. Apparently they all see him as a big teddy bear or something. “What business can we aid you with?”

Alf frowns, “Huh? I don't need any help.” He says.

“Paria sent us. He said you were looking for us.” I say.

Alf cocks his head, “No... I just heard that Uland needed you guys for something. He mentioned it when I was getting the latch fixed.” He says, tapping on the locking mechanism on the gate of the fence.

I sigh. The blacksmith is right by the inn, had we known, we could have been over there in seconds without coming all the way out here. “All right, we'll go talk to him. Thanks.” I turn, throwing the kid a wave over my shoulder.

“Do you always waste this much time getting jobs?” Echo asks.

“No. But it fits right in with our luck.” Hale answers.

“Hmm? Oh, no no, not me. Rosalia was looking for you all.” Uland tells me. He pulls a narrow sheet of metal, glowing with heat, from the forge and sets it on the anvil. “I had business at the bank and she asked if I had seen you. I told her I would point you to her if I had the chance.”

I hang my head, sighing deeply. This is starting to get ridiculous. “Got it. Thanks.” I say, turning and starting up the path to the town square.

“Nope, I was just going to let you guys know that Alisia wanted you for something.” Rosalia, the banker, says. She eyes over us, each starting to show how sick of this we were starting to get. “But, while you're here, can I interest you in a loan?”

“Oh, no. I'm sorry, but it was Nele that needed you.” Alisia says as she handles a transaction with a customer at her grocery store. “She came in for some eggs and milk, she said the chapel was running low on food. You should talk to her as soon as you can.”

“Actually, I just wanted to pass on the message that Dorgan needed you.” Predictably enough, this is the response Nele gives us. “We spoke when he was here yesterday evening. It sounded quite urgent, please go and speak to him quickly.

“Old man, I swear, if you say you're just passing along a message, I'm going to burn this town down!” Echo growls, reaching up to grab the village elder by the collar and pull him down to face level.

Hale grabs her brother and pulls him back, ignoring his struggling as she lifts him and tosses him to Galley, who sets the boy on his shoulder. With my arm now held in the air by the chain, I step forward to address Dorgan, trying to keep the annoyance out of my own voice.“We were told -eventually- that you needed to speak with us. Do you have business with us, or are you just passing a message along?”

“Hmm...” Dorgan regards us thoughtfully while he straightens his tunic out and then strokes his beard. “Well, I merely intended to inform you that I received a missive recently. The hermit in the woods north of here has heard of your exploits, and would like to see you.”

“I knew it! Let me down! Give me my wand! I'll burn them all down!”Echo cries, thrashing wildly against Galley's unmoving grip.

I sigh deeply, hanging my head. I want to cry. “Great. We'll talk to him. Thanks.” Our party, slowly, begins trudging to the fields outside of town. I think at this point, the only thing motivating me to move is the chain being pulled as Galley walks onward with Echo.

“I've never heard of a hermit in the woods.” Hale mentions. “What do you think he wants with us?”

I think about that. I honestly have no idea. We've done nothing lately but odd jobs around town, unless it was delving into Bared Dungeon that got his attention. I just shrug, “I guess we'll find out once we meet him.” I answer.

We have to tramp through the pastures outside of town before we reach he forest. At first, it seems normal enough, walking through the trees, under the canopy of shade they provide. But before long, it starts to grow cold, and we're chilled by freezing winds. Soon, we start spotting patches of snow, too.

“It always catches me off guard, how quick you can walk from one climate to another here.” Hale comments, blowing warm air onto her hands and rubbing the together.

“Ah, it's starting to feel like home!” Galley says merrily, drawing in a deep breath as he marches on.

Before long, we're traipsing through a full-blow winter wonderland. The ground, foliage, trees, everything is covered in snow. I pull my ugly robe around me tightly against the cold.

Suddenly, we come into a wide clearing in the trees, filled with rows and rows of snowmen. Dozens, maybe hundreds of them, all facing the way we came.

“Um...” The sight leaves me at a loss for words.

“Is this some kind of trick? Trap? Puzzle?” Hale asks.

“One of us is not of us, remove the outsider from our midst, and in return the path will be clear to you.”

We all turn to look to Galley, who is reading off a sign nailed to a tree. “What's that supposed to mean?” Hale asks.

“Probably means one of the snowmen has one little detail that sets it apart from the rest.” I say, looking out to the sea of snowmen. “Once we destroy that one or something, then the puzzle will show us where to go... Aagh, these are so annoying. Whoever designs these puzzles should be incarcerated.”

“Wait, I see it!” Echo calls from his perch on Galley's shoulder. He points out into the vast rows. “It's that one, see! Let me down, I'll get it.”

I nod to Galley, and he sets Echo down. Echo, without a word, draws his wand and shoots a stream of fire out into the snowmen. Before any of us have a chance to react, every single snowman has been melted and evaporated, leaving only scorched ground behind. “Got him.” Echo says, tucking the wand back into his belt.

On the other side of the clearing, a couple of trees fade away, revealing a pathway through the thick trees. “Yeah, yeah you got him all right.” I agree, leading the others through the path ahead.

I'm starting to get sick of this walk. It's been ten minutes since Echo torched the snowmen, and we're still walking through a tunnel of trees. The ground rises up in small ridges to either side, and the trees are grown thickly enough that, even with all their leaves torn off from the cold, the bare branches still block the sky out completely.

“It would be one thing if we had some monsters or something to fight, but no! It's just trees.” From the game of 'who needs the adventurers,' to being carried on Galley's shoulder, to walking through a freezing forest with no clear destination, and being chained to me the whole time Echo has gotten to a point of being very vocal in his grievances. “I mean, why even live out here? There's nothing out here!”

“Maybe he just really likes trees.” Hale suggests halfheartedly, sounding unconvinced and short on patience herself.

“Must have some pretty dull par-tays out here.” Galley adds, glancing around the heavy woods, “All the snacks would get cold. Not good.”

“But what if it was like... ice cream? Or sandwiches? Those are good cold.” Echo remarks.

“No, no.” Galley replies, shaking his head. “Ice cream would freeze solid, too frozen. Sandwiches would get soggy from the snow.”

“Well, what if...” Echo and Galley continue their discussion of cold weather snacks for the rest of the journey. At least it's was something new.

At long last, we come to some kind of stone platform at the end of the tree tunnel. Like the base of a Skyway portal, it's a large round circle rising out of the snow. Unlike the portals, this stone it cracked and worn, with ice filling out some cracks in the otherwise solid stone. There is also a massive grizzly bear sleeping on the stone.

“Welp, bear ate the sage. Such a shame. Let's go back and tell everyone now.” Echo says as he turns on a heel and stalks away, but is stopped by the chain between us.

“Hold up. Sages don't get eaten by bears after the first week or two living in the woods. There's something going on here.” I say, glancing at Galley and nodding toward the bear. The giant nods, a slight grin spreading on his face.

Galley begins inching toward the sleeping bear, and the rest of us take a good couple steps back. Galley gets within a few yards of the stone before the bear stirs, lifting its head slightly and opening one eye to look at Galley.

“I am a champion bear wrestler!” Galley cries, launching himself toward the bear, arms outstretched, ready to wrestle the beast into submission. As we watch, the bear raises one large paw, smacks Galley's head into the snow, and goes back to sleep.

After a few long moments, the giant stands up and turns back to us, walking slowly, shoulders sagging. Blood spills from a trio of fresh gashes across his face. “That bear isn't messing around.” He says dejectedly, drawing a potion from his bag and drinking it. Immediately, his face wound stopped bleeding and started to seal up.

“Sure isn't.” I agree, crossing my arms and regarding the bear. A faint glimmer from the corner of my eye catches my attention, and I turn to look for the source. A small, wooden sign has been nailed to a tree by us, illuminated clearly by a rare break in the overhanging branches. Green glyphs glow faintly on the boards. “Hey, oh wise and knowledgeable bard, what's this?” I ask, pointing to it.

Galley steps closer and bends down, peering at the boards. “Looks druidic.” He rumbles after a moment. I raise an eyebrow. Druidic? I've never seen a druid on Prism, much less learned their language.

Galley, however, slowly deciphers the message. “By day's light lies a beast to eyes, a beast to ears, a beast to fear. Settle here now, traveler, if it is not this beast you seek. By were-light’s shine, beast retreats, and wisdom prevails, that you may entreat.” The giant stands up, scratching his head. “So... the sage is nocturnal?”

“Something like that.” I say, nodding my head. “This bear is probably his guard or something, and won't move until nighttime.”

“Well, we tried, and that's all that really matters. Too bad the sage wasn't home, we'll just have to live the rest of our lives wondering what he wanted to tell us.” Echo says, trying to escape and, again, being stopped by the chains. He lets out a hybrid growl-sigh of exasperation.

“Nope. We spent all morning looking around town and half the afternoon getting here. There is no way I'm leaving without talking to this druid. If nothing else, then to tell him how to mail a letter.” I say, kicking some snow away from the ridge beside us and sitting down. Echo glares at me, then pulls tightly on the chain, moving my arm out to the side but still not escaping.

“I hate you all.” The urchin says, still tugging on the chain and walking in place, feet sliding on the snow, as he tries to get away.

“Aw, don't be like that! This'll be a great opportunity for you to learn more about the nature of magic.” I say brightly, and he stops.

“Really?” He asks, sounding equal parts skeptical and hopeful.

“No.” I say flatly. “No, not really. Now sit down and shut up. We're staying until night.”
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:14 am

*dying laughing*
"There is no way I'm leaving without talking to this druid. If nothing else, then to tell him how to mail a letter.”
Awesome as ever Odd keep it going!!!
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:27 pm

Before we get started, I feel like pointing out that this sucker clocked in at just barely under 5000 words, making it probably the longest chapter of this story to date. I don't feel like going back and checking the validity of that, but it sounds about right. Hope y'all like boss fights.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Twelfth: The Cheap Prophesy, the Restless Ruins, and the Stone Warrior

Fortunately, night descends quick and early in this snowy, wintry climate.

The cycles of day and night on Prism don't make much sense; this one patch of forest is covered in winter weather, but it's surrounded by warmer, more temperate climates that tend to lean toward spring and summer weather. Still, this one spot in the middle turns dark quickly, while the surrounding lands stay bright until late in the evening. I personally suspect some kind of magical rift in time-space, but the rotations and cycles of the planet in regards to the rest of the system and surrounding celestial bodies aren't terribly important, so it's a moot point.

The important thing is, with dusk drawing so much faster in this area, we only have to wait for five hours until darkness completely blankets the forest. Just enough time to make it back to town, turn around, and come back to be here by nightfall. Tired of walking, we decide against the pointless round trip, and hunker down for the evening.

I have a deck of cards and a set of wooden dice in my bag, and we pass through the rest of the day idly playing small games with them. I call it 'team relationship strengthening' exercises for the sake of making it sound like we've actually done something productive with our time.

As we're playing our small, time killing games by lantern light, we notice a sudden flash from the direction of the bear and the stone platform. Eagerly, we all hop to our feet, rushing to see if the sage of the woods has finally come out to meet us.

Where the bear stood before, there is now a man, looking well into his twenties, with light brown hair, round spectacles over his bright green eyes, and a large, brown robe. He eyes us over with a stern frown as we settle ourselves in the snow, finally clicking his tongue and turning his nose upward slightly. “Oh, it's you.” He says impassively.

“Yeah, it's us!” Echo shouts, stepping forward, “You know, us, the people you called out to wait in the freezing woods all day with your pet bear hanging over our shoulder!”

“I make no apologies for the bear.” The sage replied, “It is a simple and effective form of self-preservation. It keeps those with hostile of selfish intent at bay, and also protects from the harsh environment.”

“Regardless of the forms you take in your spare time, druid,” I cut in, stepping forward and motioning for Echo to move back. He does so, looking slightly confused. I'll explain it to him later; shapeshifting, an archaic and wild form of magic used by ancient druids. I look back to the sage, “you summoned us, and now we're here. What do you have to say?”

The sage regards me for a long time, then turns his attention to Echo, Galley, and Hale in turn, and finally coming back to me. “The long lost one is awakening.” He says, voice flat and emotionless. “Her long sleep is over. She has recovered. She stirs.”

My eyes narrow and my mouth gapes slightly as I stare at the sage. Has he lost his mind sitting out alone in the forest as a bear all this time? I mentally chastise myself; how many people have opened with something incredibly crazy sounding and turned out to be foretelling some world ending horror? A lot.

“Already, one walks the world, and another watches. What will you do when she, the final of three, returns?” The sage continues, and a long silence stretches out before I realize he's actually asked a question, not a rhetoric.

“Uh, well...” I sputter, racking my brain for a quick answer. “Wait for someone to hire us, then deal with it.”

“Hm. What a very straightforward way of thought.” The sage says. “When the darkest darkness returns, you will not cry, nor weep, nor despair. This much is true.” He sweeps his gaze over us again, “You are incomplete, each of you. And the rest of you. You will not stand. But I think you will refuse to fall.”

Another long silence. Somewhere in the woods, a owl cries.

Finally, the sage turns away from us, sweeping his heavy sleeve. “Go. I have much to attend.”

“Let me at him! I'll kill him!” Echo lunges forward, and Galley tackles him to the ground, jerking the chain and dropping me into the snow as well. I sigh deeply.

“Waste of time?” Hale asks, bending over and peering down at me from the shadows of her robe. I nod.

“Massive one.” I answer, taking her offered hand and getting back to my feet. “Cheap-o, dime a dozen doomsayer living in the woods because society won't tolerate him. Probably calls every adventuring party he hears of out to spread his generic, half cryptic lines.”

I look back toward the retreating sage, and he pauses, looking back over his shoulder. His green eyes lock on me, staring me down intensely. He doesn't speak, only silently mouths his next words, but I catch them perfectly. “Your past days are not over.”

I gulp involuntarily as a cold shiver shoots down my spine. What does that mean? I don't know, but it's foreboding enough to worry me just a bit. “Let's go.” I say to the others, keeping my eyes on the sage until he turns away and continues walking. I turn away as well, back the way we came. “We can get back to town in an hour or two. Paria should be able to set us up with our room.”

As the old proverb goes, 'give your party an inch, and they'll take a mile.' Soon following our meeting with the sage, the others are demanding another trip to a dungeon. Hale and Galley insist we can't lose what little momentum we have, and Echo supports the idea simply because he knows it will get him unchained for a while. I don't think the kid's particularly well suited to staying still in a small town all the time, either.

It makes sense, I guess. They have a point; we are adventurers, and we should be doing dungeon runs more frequently. I have a feeling if I try to enforce another month of down time, I'll be dealing with a mutiny. That only leaves the question, what dungeon?

As I'm pondering that, a thought slowly forms in my mind. Back when I was still solo, I tackled a dungeon in the deserts on Fyelma. It was long enough ago that don't remember much of what the dungeon was like, but I do remember getting a unique treasure from it that may help this time around. With the decision made, I -and by extension, Echo- set off to make preparations.

It doesn't take long for the four of us are back in Edea, having warped continents and arrived in the elven desert town. The hot sun beats down mercilessly, but the only wind is a small, warm breeze; no sandstorms today.

“All right, where do we go for the dungeon?” Hale asks, pulling her black hair into a ponytail behind her before pulling her dark hood back up over her face.

“Well, that's the thing.” I say hesitantly, “See, it's a shifting dungeon. Moves around in the desert. We'll have to find it ourselves.”

The looks I get from the party make me wonder if they took that as some sort of confession of murder. They stare at me like a crazy, deranged psycho who suggested we stop at a pet store for a fresh snack. “Can I kill him? Please?” Echo asks.

“Go for it.” Hale answers, tossing her brother the key to our shackles.

“Hey hey! Wait! Stop!” I exclaim, snatching the key out of the air before Echo can grab it. “No killing. No, none. Not till we get to the dungeon.”

“The one that moves. In the sand. Across the desert.” Hale says. “Just to clarify, that dungeon, that we may never find out here?”

“The very one!” I confirm. “But, seriously. We can get a map from town with all the known locations and patterns of the dungeon's movement. It isn't a big deal.”

With grumbling and murmurs of rebellion, the party reluctantly agrees to give searching a try. We purchase a guide to the dungeon with no difficulty, and we're soon on the edge of town, preparing to head out and find it.

“Oh yeah. Hey kid, do you have an eagle?” I ask. Echo looks at me oddly, then shakes his head. “Ah, figured as much. Galley, you take him. You're eagle's big, it'll fit you both.” I say, unlocking the shackle on my wrist and tossing it to Galley. The giant tugs it like a leash, much to Echo's annoyance.

I watch them for a moment, making sure neither make an immediate move to kill each other, then face forward and hold out my hand. I reach in and gather my body's mana, the magic energy flowing through, and make the command. “Come, Zeltan!” Instantly, the great bird materializes in front of me, flaring out his wing and letting loose a wild shriek.

I climb onto Zeltan's back, finding a ridge of comfort behind his head, with my legs dangling in front of his wings. I glance around, seeing the others similarly mounted on their own eagles. “Stick close and follow my lead. Let's go!”

The map directs us to the right general area, but we end up flying around for almost an hour searching for the dungeon entrance. Finally, I catch a glint of light reflected at me from Hale's direction. I look to the swordswoman to find her, sword drawn, using the blade to direct the sunlight at me and get my attention. She points down, and I follow the tip of her blade until I see a large, square hole in the ground, with stone floors leading under the sand.

I look back at Hale and nod the affirmative, then quickly gather up some mana and shoot a fireball toward Galley and Echo. It misses them widely, of course, but it pulls their attention to me and I signal for them to land with us.

I join Hale on the ground, holding my sleeve up in front of my face to protect my eyes from the small sandstorm Zeltan's wings kick up as the giant bird lands. I slide off the eagle's back and step forward to the staircase. It looks like ancient sandstone, chipped and cracked, but still sturdy, and mysteriously clear of even a speck of sand, despite its location in the middle of a desert. The stairs are only lit by fading sunlight, which fades into darkness further down.

“Yep, this is it.” I say, nodding. We turn as Galley and Echo land and dismount, then come to join us by the entrance. Galley is still holding the chain like a leash and Echo looks to have death on his mind. “All right, everybody ready? Anyone need a bathroom break before we go? Good. Then let's get started.”

I lead the way into the darkness of the dungeon's entrance. The wind cuts off abruptly as we enter the shelter of the enclosed staircase, and the temperature seems to drop a few degrees. After a few steps in complete darkness, we come into a brightly lit room dominated largely by a statue of the goddess and an alter with an offering bowl on it, and a pair of huge stone doors behind.

I reach into my bag for the treasure I got last time I was here, retrieving a quiver with twenty ornamental arrows, crafted of bronze and adorned with topaz gems at the heads. I remove one arrow from the quiver and place it in the offering bowl. It disappears in a flash, and the stone doors rumble open. I sling the quiver of topaz arrows over my shoulder, next to my normal quiver, in case I need it, before drawing my control bars. “In we go.”

The monsters in the dungeon are mostly standard fare for a desert ruin; poisonous scarabs, poisonous snakes, poisonous scorpions, poisonous beetles, and mummies. with poisoned daggers.

“I swear, if you let one more snake through to bite me, I'm swapping to their side.” Echo says as I place a hand on his shoulder and use a simple spell to neutralize the fresh poison from a bite he took in the last battle.

The dungeon feels a lot more intense and unforgiving than it did when I was here alone, probably a side effect of using the topaz arrow as an offering to enter. Dungeon levels accessed by using special items are often more difficult, but yield much higher rewards. Still, with Hale and my marionette at the front, Galley and Echo supporting from behind and me using my magic to augment our healing after battles, I'd say it's going fairly well. In fact, we're standing at the top of a staircase leading to the second level already.

“Duly noted. Now fall back in line.” Echo grimaces at my command, but reluctantly trudges over to stand next to Galley, who's brushing sand off his pistols. Once the urchin has his back turned, I can't help but grin a bit smugly; it's nice to see the little punk shaping up, even if only a little.

“I've cut up enough snakes in here, my swords should be poison coated by now.” Hale comments, swinging her swords through the air to clear the blood from them. “How much longer is this dungeon going to be? Our mana and potions won't hold out forever, and I don't wanna get stuck with no supplies like last time.”

I shrug, “No idea.” I admit. “I was in a different section of the dungeon before, and even that was ages ago. I'm pretty sure that was only one level, though.” I turn, looking down the staircase to the second level. “We'll just have to keep forging onward until we reach the end.”

“Or the end reaches us.” Hale mutters, taking the lead and walking down the stairs.

The second floor only covers about half as much as the first floor did, and soon leads to the boss room, which we face, key in hand for the massive lock hanging from it.

“All right, Mr. Leader man, any advice for the boss? You were here before, right?” Hale asks, sliding her swords against one another to hone the blades in preparation for the fight.

“Well, when I was here last, it was a warrior in golden armor, riding a horse. He used a bow at range, and jabbed me with a spear when I got in close.” I answer, applying some magic glue to my marionette. The cracks and chips in the wood seal up and fill themselves in, seeming as if the puppet itself was a live and regenerating. “I doubt it'll be a different type of boss, but we should be ready for anything.”

“We will par-TAY!” Galley exclaims, cocking his guns. They glow faintly as he fills them with his mana.

“Just don't be stupid about it. I'm not gonna bail you out like last time.” Echo says. The urchin is alternating between drinking from a potion bottle in one hand and eating an apple with the other, presumably to wash the taste out. Often, you would find potions with a bitter taste in the mix, making them very unpalatable. Then again, as long as they heal wounds and replenish mana, there isn't much complaining going around.

Once everyone seems ready, I nod, handing the key to Galley and sending out mana strings to connect to my marionette. The puppet stands up and stretches its joints out as Galley unlocks the door, and we step in as it slides open.

The boss room is a wide open space, an enclosed box of sandstone, just like the rest of the dungeon. The floor is all sand, and there are tiered platforms built into the walls, like seats. The whole room looks like an arena. There's no golden rider, just a pile of rocks on the far side of the room.

“Move up. Carefully.” I say, inching my marionette forward alongside Hale.

Suddenly, the rocks spring into motion as we draw close, flying through the air as if they're caught in a twister. They quickly come to rest, joined together, in the shape of a tall, humanoid golem. Golden patterns of swirls and hieroglyphics mark the cube-like stones that make up the golem's body; long arms that reach the ground, and a wide torso that clashes with a too-small head. The golem turns to us, regarding us for a moment, then lumbering forward with surprising speed to attack.

I hiss. A different boss, with different tactics and no time to prepare. Just our luck, I suppose. “Spread out! Hale, distract it. Everyone else, hit it from behind!” I shout, sending my marionette in to meet the first attack. The puppet's sledgehammer meets with the golem's sandstone fist, and after a second of what looks like a draw, the marionette is blown away.

Hale dives in and starts hacking at the golem, swinging her swords in a deadly storm of steel. The golem looks down at her, then swings a huge fist at her. She rolls out of the way, dodging around and to the back of the golem. She plants a pair of firm strikes on the construct's back before darting away across the sand. The lumbering giant turns to give chase.

Galley and Echo have split off in either direction, fanning out and getting some distance from the golem. Galley looses a barrage of mana bullets on one side of the boss while Echo scores a direct hit with a fireball from the other. The golem ignores both attacks and continues to give chase after Hale.

I send my marionette in for a surprise attack from the rear. The hammer and cleaver both connect solidly on the golem's back, but the sandstone automaton remains unfazed and undistracted from pursuing Hale. Only my marionette wobbles, and the mana strings visibly waver.

Hale stops, skidding in the sand, launching herself backward toward the golem. She slides between the golem's legs, striking out with her swords on either side, and freezes as they connect. Her stance shakes as the force of the solid strike reverberates through her body. She dodges away from the golem, barely in time to avoid another strike, and runs away from the creature. “It's no use, I can't hurt the thing!” She calls to me.

I hiss in annoyance. Neither Hale or my marionette can hurt this thing. It must have incredibly high physical defense. Meaning... “Echo!” I call, replacing my control rods on my belt. “It may be weak to magic, hit it with ice!” The urchin nods, and a cloud of frost appears in the air around his wand.

I hold my hands out, channeling mana into them and forming it into lightning. Electricity crackles in the air, and small beams of it flicker between my fingers. I glance to Echo, who is now orbited by a dozen shards of ice, waiting for a signal. “Now!” I shout, closing my hands into fists and throwing them toward the golem.

Lightning strikes the golem dead center in the chest, and the ice strikes it across the flank. But, the electricity dissipates in the air and the ice shatters while the golem remains unharmed.

“Well, this is bad.” I mutter to myself. Swords don't work, magic doesn't work, there must be something I'm missing here. It feels like the golem is entirely too powerful an adversary to be stopped by our attacks, but the rest of the dungeon wasn't nearly this impossible; there wouldn't be a difficulty spike of this scale between the monsters and the boss, surely.

Clang! The golem lands a blow. Hale blocks it with her crossed swords, but still takes the brunt of the impact and is sent flying across the room to land in the sand near Galley. The giant stows his pistols and draws his greatsword, switching with the swordswoman and charging to the boss.

“Ha! Now you face me, you monster! I'll show you the might of a true giant warri-” Galley's banter is cut off by a heavy slap from the golem that knocks him across the room. The giant slams into the seats by the wall near me, and I rush to administer a pheonix feather and a healing potion.

“Uugh, that didn't go so well.” The giant says, shaking his head and spinning his elbow a bit before leaping to his feet. “You caught me off guard that time, but now I'm ready for you!” He shouts, running at the golem again.

Whum! I duck just in time to avoid Galley's limp body flying back my way, and he slams into the door behind me. I roll my eyes, looking to Echo and signaling for him to take care of the giant. Echo rolls his eyes, but runs over the help nonetheless.

I rush forward, side by side with my marionette as we run for the golem. I throw the marionette forward first, and it gets smashed aside by a topaz-adorned fist. topaz...

That's it! I dismiss the mana strings and marionette, and the puppet disappears in a puff of smoke. I stow my control bars back into my belt and duck under the golem's next strike, sliding under it and coming out behind, drawing my bow and a pair of topaz arrows. I knock the arrows, pull the bowstring back, and whirl around, barely taking a second to aim before loosing the projectiles at the golem.

The arrows slam into the automaton's back, cracking sandstone, leaving shallow craters in the golem's back. The golem lets out a deep, distorted rumble in what I can only assume is pain, and I draw two more arrows, preparing to fire. The golem spins around, raising a fist to crush me.

The scene appears to play out slowly to me. The golem's fist closes in toward me, ready to smash me into the sand. Even as I loose the arrows, I take a deep breath, drawing in mana. As the arrows leave the bow, sailing toward the golem, I speak. “Come, Alin!” As the stone draws closer, a horse materializes behind me at full gallop, already heading away. I reach back, catching the saddle of the horse, and hold on for dear life.

The horse jerks me away just as the golem's fist smashes into the ground where I had stood a split second ago, sending up a storm of sand around it. I run with the horse for a few paces before managing to leap up into the saddle and draw another pair of arrows, ready to fire. “Good boy.” I whisper, stroking the horse's mane.

Alin, a purebred Aelid horse, my second oldest ally on Prism. He's been with me almost as long as Zeltan, and has been a great help to me in that time. But more than as just a mount for transportation; I am privy to a few elven techniques that can let me ride a horse and shoot a bow at the same time, barely detracting from my skill in either. A very useful trick in situations like these.

“Let's bring it down.” I whisper, and the horse snorts, shaking his mane out and picking up into a full gallop. The golem has recovered from my most recent pair of shots, and starts to give chase. It's fast, but not quite as fast as Alin.

“Try to distract it!” I call to the rest of the party, “Get me a chance for a clear shot.” Hale and Galley heft their swords, and Echo readies another fireball.

I lead the golem in a lap around the room, giving the others a few precious moments to prepare, then turn Alin toward them. Hale and Galley have arranged themselves side by side with each other near the middle of the room, leaving enough space between them for the golem, while Echo holds his fireball at the far wall, ready to cast it.

I steer Alin right between the two warriors, and the Golem follows closely behind us. I twist back to watch, raising my bow and pulling the string back. Galley twists around, gaining momentum for his greatsword, while Hale leaps into the air, raising her blades overhead. Their strikes hit at the same time, Galley slamming his sword into the golem's torso while Hale strikes it in the shoulder. Echo's fireball flies past me, hitting the ground by the golem's legs. The sand is burned into glass, and the golem is, just for a second, immobilized.

I fire, loosing both arrows toward the golem, and before they even reach their mark I have another pair knocked on the string, preparing to fire. The topaz arrows strike the golem in the shoulder and chest, then the head and stomach. The boss stumbles back, shattering the glass holding it, roaring again in its distorted voice.

I turn back forward, urging Alin to the side so as to not run Echo right over. I take a glance back, and see the golem recovered, chasing after me still, completely ignoring the others. “All right, let's do that again!”

We manage to pull the tactic off about seven or eight more times before I realize I've run out of topaz arrows and have just been shooting with ineffectual, normal ones for the past few flights. That doesn't bode well.

“I don't think it's working anymore!” Hale calls, leaping to avoid a sweeping strike from the golem. For its part, the boss seems to have grown wise to our tactics, and is now taking swings at Hale and Galley as they come into melee range.

“I need more arrows! Try to get the bronze ones with the gems while I distract the boss.” I shout back, shooting a pair of plain arrows into the golem to grab its attention, then steering Alin away quickly.

“Whoa, that's no good. You broke them all!” Galley shouts as I approach them, tossing an arrow up for me to catch. The bronze shaft has been bent and crushed by the impact against the golem, looking like a very pointy, very used bendy straw. There'll be no recovering these, it seems.

“Keep fighting it. Maybe we'll find some other weakness to use.” I tell them, although my expectations aren't exactly high. A boss with a specific weakness like this likely wouldn't be defeated by any other means. Still, it never hurt to try. Until you got beaten by a giant sandstone warrior, anyway.

Hale went down first. The swordswoman got sucker punched in the middle of her string of attacks, rolling limply across the sand. Galley got taken down trying to help her; in the middle of igniting a pheonix feather over her, the golem caught up and crushed him into the sand.

Next was Echo, rolling his eyes as he fired every spell he had at the golem, to no effect. He sneered as the golem loomed over him, and I couldn't help but wince when the hit came.

That left me. And Alin, for what that was worth. I gave it one last barrage, throwing everything I had at the golem. Arrows, magic, marionette, nothing worked. Finally, while trying to pull a tight U-turn around the golem, Alin's hooves slipped in the sand, and the horse slowed.

The last thing I saw was the golem's fist coming over the horse's head, straight for me. Defeated, because I didn't have enough of the special arrows. well, I am getting an earful for this one when we get-

I jolt awake, eyes snapping open as I half jump from my spot lying on the floor. I look into the clear, endless white sky, seeing swirling pillars rising around the edge of my vision. It takes me all of a second to realize where I am. I close my eyes and let out a deep sigh.

“You're doing that a lot more lately.” She says, her voice as gentle and calm as it ever is. “Sighing, I mean. Like, every time you have a conversation with one of them, at least three sighs come out.”

“I don't suppose there's any chance you didn't see that?” I ask, not opening my eyes yet. I don't want to see the smirk on her face.

“Oh, that fight? No such luck. You got creamed. It was awesome. I'm working on your body now.”

I take a deep breath before opening my eyes, looking up to finally meet her gaze. She sat in a stool above me, one leg folded over the other with her hands in her lap. Her deep violet eyes locked onto mine, with that usual look of serene comfort mixed with childlike mischief. Her pink hair, adorned only with a simple headband on top, hung loosely, swaying in a not existing breeze, almost brushing the ground. Her clothes were simple but elegant, suiting her well; a shirt that folded in the middle, and a long skirt wrapped around her, both white with black trimming. Just as I predicted, she had a smug little smirk on her face.

“Hi, Noel.”
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:46 am

lol niiiiiiiiice. Yeah, you're getting an earful alright.
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Feb 26, 2016 4:51 pm

It's that time of week again. Hooraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! I'm not sure this chapter turned out too well, but it's too late to try and fix it, so there. Enjoy.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Thirteenth: The Reunion, the Change, and the Adventure in Earnest

“Why hello, Bod. It is so kind of you to drop by and visit.” Noel kicks off of her stool, circling around to the feet end of me to look me over. “You seem to be doing well. Aside from the whole, y'know, dying thing.”

I roll my eyes, scoffing. “Whatever. You gonna give me a hand up?” I stretch my hand up toward her.

“Nnnnope.” She turns, hands held behind her back, and takes a few long strides away from me. I shake my head, pushing myself up onto my feet.

“I remember a time you would have thought that through a little better.” She says, looking into the endless white void before us. We're standing on a platform in the middle of nothing, clear and always spinning in circles, though I can't feel the motion. “You always were so cautious, thoughtful. Good at planning things out, especially dungeon raids. Too afraid not to plan it all. You never would have gone in there without a full hundred of those arrows back then.”

I open my mouth to respond, then stop, hesitant. Noel must have sensed it, because she turns around, frowning. “Bod, just talk. Don't be such a worrywart.”

I frown back, my lips pressed into a thin line. “Am I going to forget this, too?” I finally ask.

Noel's frown is replaced by a small, melancholic smile. “Yes.”

I sigh. “Just like all the rest...” I mutter.

“You can remember it all here. That's enough.”

“Yeah... maybe.” I walk beside her and we both stare out into the endless white expanse, silent for a long time.

“So, tell me what you've been up to lately.” Noel said after a while.

“You already know. You've been watching the whole thing.” I say

“Yeah, but I want to hear your take on things. C'mon, Bod, I'm rebuilding your mangled old body for you. The least you can do is tell me a story while we wait.”

I take a deep breath, thinking over the events of the past couple months. Starting with the letter from Click, I begin telling my account of our sad little misadventures. Meeting Hale, contacting Galley, running into Echo the first time, fighting the dragon, getting saved by Calico, living quietly in Zid Caina for a while, swinging back into action with Bared, recruiting Echo, and ending with our most recent defeat at the hands of the golem.

“Mmm... sounds like you're having quite a fun time.” Noel comments at last. She moves to sit down, and a small crystalline stool forms under her. “Your new party members sound especially interesting. You're enjoying it.”

It was a statement, not a question, but I still can't help but consider the thought. Am I enjoying this? Trying to sharpen Hale's skills, keep Galley out of trouble, and keep Echo in the party, trying to meet all their demands, and do it in the safest capacity. It feels more like glorified babysitting than proper adventuring sometimes.

“I guess so.” I agree noncommittally.

Noel turns her gaze toward me and raises an eyebrow. “Guess so, do you? What kind of an answer is that?” I shrug, and she hums softly to herself. “Hm, all right, if you want to be tight-lipped about it, fine.”

We're silent again, and I take the time to think over what got me here. That golem, we never stood a chance against it. It completely destroyed us. Before that, it was the ogres. Before that, the dragon. Even before the dragon, me and Hale almost got decimated by a giant spider. Before I know it, I'm letting out another heavy sigh, one that must betray my melancholy, because Noel turns to face me, wide-eyed.

“Whoa, that was a record setter.” She remarked, “Geez, Bod, it was just a question, don't take it so seriously.”

I glance sidelong at her, letting out a small scoff. “I liked it better when I really believed I could become a legendary hero.”

Noel smiles, “Everyone wishes they could still be a kid, Bod. Few get the chance to experience it again.”

I chuckle. “Back when hunting dragons was an everyday occurrence, and all it took to get some recognition was slaying a demon or two. Good times.”

“You had a lot of good times back then. Even without me, you did pretty well.” Noel looks back out to the white void, and I do the same.

“It's all because of you, you know.” I say. “Even if I managed to avoid getting killed by goblins as a child, then I would have grown up like the rest of them. Never leaving that village, never thinking twice about it. Childhood dreams all forgotten. Going day to day doing the same old things. Living, but not really being... Alive. I never would have actually managed any of it without you.”

“I know.” Noel says, sounding rather pleased with herself. “But I was just... Like a crutch. I helped you get started, but soon, you didn't even need me anymore. You managed just fine.”

“I guess so.”

“Yeah. But, let me ask you a question.” Noel waves her hand, and the endless white expanse before us suddenly transforms into a picture of a faraway landscape; rolling green hills, streams running through rock crevasses, a small town built at the highest point of the valley. “What's that?” She asks.

“Zid Caina.” I answer, recognizing the village instantly.

“Right.” Noel says, “Gold star. Now, how do you feel, looking at this?”

“I don't know...” I shrug, “Calm. At peace. Pretty happy, I guess.”

Noel nods. The picture changes again, this time showing a small village split in half by a river. On one side is a healthy village, green, vibrant, with a castle rising up on the edge. On the other side of the river, the buildings are burned down, the trees are dead, and the ground is scorched.

“That's Feylake.” I say immediately.

“Sure is.” The picture shifts, moving away from the burned down side of the town and focusing on the live one, where I used to live. “How does that make you feel?”

“Young. Nostalgic.” I say, struggling for words, “Kind of...”

“Calm?” Noel suggests, “At peace? Pretty happy?”

I hesitate, then nod. “Uh... yeah. Something like that.”

“All right. Last one.” Noel waves her hand again, and the picture ripples like a pond, changing. It now shows a small island, flat along the coasts but rising up in the middle like a giant burial mound. Seams along the mound glow with volcanic activity, and smoke rises from it. A wrecked, splintered ship is washed up on part of the coast.

A grin covers my face. “That's Carindor Island, where I killed Verleg, the green dragon! Man, that was a quest!” I look at Noel, who has her attention locked onto me, a bemused smile on her face. “Uh... what?”

“And how does this one make you feel?” She asks softly.

“Um...” I hesitate, trying to form my feeling into words. “I guess... Excited, powerful... important. I guess it makes me feel... kind of like a hero.”

“Hmm...” Noel stands up from her stool and walks to the center of the spinning platform. The picture of the island fades behind her, returning to the white void, and I watch her curiously. “The dragons on Prism are a pretty fearsome breed.” She says, her voice too soft to hear from so far away, but still reaching my ears perfectly. “I'm not telling you to go out and hunt the dragons of Prism, Bod. Just... just remember what it was like. How you felt in Feylake, and Zid Caina... and how you felt on Carindor.”

I'm silent, thoughtful as I watch her. “N... Noel?”

“Remember what it was like to be alive.” She looks over her shoulder at me, showing me one purple eye. I can see a fire in the depths of that eye. “Show me you don't need a crutch anymore.”

I gulp involuntarily. Noel always did have an intense gaze when she was serious. Suddenly, something else comes to my mind. “The sage... He said something about my past not being over. What does that mean?”

A small smile split Noel's lips. “Oooh, that? Who knows?”

“You know!” I exclaim, sounding more exasperated than I meant to.

She doesn't seem to mind.“Hehe, yep. But why bother telling you? You'll just forget it when you go back.”

“I want to know.” I insist, taking a step forward. “I have to know. Is it...”

“Bod.” She stops me, looking at me with an expression a parent would have for an over-inquisitive child. “Go.”

I blink.

“See? Broke it, completely in half!” Hale exclaims, showing her snapped sword to Galley and Echo, who are looking over their own equipment.

“Maybe if you used a shield...” Echo mutters, looking down the length of his magic wand. It looked a little cracked, but mostly serviceable.

“That was one rough par-tay.” Galley says, shaking his head solemnly as he works on his pistols with a set of tiny, precise looking tools.

“Hey, our fearless leader showed up,” Echo says, noticing me standing there. “So can we take this to mean you didn't win?”

We're in the town square of Zid Caina, standing under the massive tree in the middle of the town. I groan, rubbing between my eyes. Going straight from getting clobbered in a dungeon to standing peacefully in the town is always disorienting. I look down at the urchin, grimacing. “Yes, I did not beat that thing.” I say, nodding.

Hale sighs, slumping her shoulders. “Shoulda known. Maybe we got a little ahead of ourselves with that one.”

“Should have stuck with local gigs.” Galley agrees, looking down the disassembled barrel of one of his guns and ramming a rag down it, the white cloth coming back covered in blue smears dotted with dust. “Someplace with less sand, maybe.”

“Yeah... that one's on me. Sorry guys.” I say, scratching my head awkwardly. The others stop and look and look at me questioningly. “Ah, well, I mean... I didn't know the golem could only be damaged by those arrows. I should have done my homework a bit better, I guess. Won't happen again.”

Hale and Galley frown, and Echo raises an eyebrow at me. “Eh, it happens.” Hale finally says. “We'll just try harder to not die next time, is all.”

After a moment, we all decide to split up and lick our wounds after that dungeon. Hale goes off to the blacksmith, Echo goes to get some potions, and Galley heads for the inn, saying there's not a craftsman with the skill he needs to look at his pistols, so he'd just patch them up as best he could. That leaves me alone in the square.

I make a mental checklist of what I need to do next; get my armor fixed, pick up some more arrows, get more glue for my marionette, and I still have to renew our rent on the inn room. And then... what? I guess we'll be back to working around town for a bit, until the others get restless and convince me to go for another dungeon.

I frown, blinking a few times. Is that what it's come to? All I want to do is sit around and get by and only actually go adventuring to keep my party off my back? That's not right. When did I become so, so... boring? When did I make Zid Caina my home, instead of just another stop on the road to my adventures?

When did Zid Caina become Feylake?

I freeze as the thought hits me. I've become so cozy in this little town, that I hadn't even noticed myself slipping farther and farther away from my adventurous life. Little by little, I fell into the ideal of a perfect little town, always calm, always peaceful. The same ideal I refused to adopt as a child.

“Hey, you're back! How'd the latest adventure go? Did ya get any nice treasure?” I look up, meeting Nila's gaze. The innkeeper's niece is working outside, sweeping dust off the cobblestone steps leading inside. I must have a shocking expression, because she cringes when she sees it. “Whoa, man, that is a face. What happened, did your dog die or something?”

I blink in surprise. How did I get to the inn? Had I been walking back the whole time I thought without even realizing it? Is that how automatic my way of life has become? “I... I don't...” I begin a sentence, but can't come up with the words to continue.

“Um... You all right?” Nila asks, leaning her broom against the doorframe and walking down to meet me. “You don't look so good. Something happen in the dungeon?”

“We need... We're leaving.” My mouth moved numbly, forming words on it's own. I almost didn't realize what I was saying until it had left my mouth, but as soon as it did I knew it was right. It felt right. “We're leaving... To the next town. To the next adventure.”

“What, so soon?” Nila asks, surprised, “When are you guys heading out?”

I look up at the sun. The sun is far past noon and is starting to edge to the far side of the sky. It'll get dark in a few hours. But a few hours of riding is enough to get started.

I look back at Nila, a broad grin splitting my face. “Now!” I bolt away, running to the blacksmith's shop. It's rust across the way from the inn, across a bridge built over a running stream, and I meet Hale there. “Hale, pack it up, we're leaving town. Now.” I say.

She stops her conversation with the blacksmith, looking at me. She takes a second to examine the uncharacteristic excitement on my face, and frowns. “Um... but my sword...?”

“Repair it later-- no! Leave it.” I pull my coin purse free of my belt and hand it to her. “Buy a new one. A better one. Meet at the south road out of town in ten minutes, I'll get the others!” I dash away, ignoring Hale calling after me in protest and confusion. I run at top speed back into town, to the healer's house. Echo is there, negotiating with Iris, the town healer, over the price of her potions.

“But this one is yellow! What even is a yellow potion? That's got to be spoiled!” Echo insists.

“It's a stamina potion.” Iris explains, sounding exasperated, rubbing her temple. “It soothes your body and restores your energy.”

“That's what a healing potion does!” Echo argues.

I cut into the argument, stepping forward and gripping Echo by the shoulder. “Just take them. All of them.” I say, and the boy looks up at me, questioningly. “We're going to need a lot of them. We're leaving town, get to the south road and wait for us!”

Next is Galley, back at the inn. I should have gotten him first, since I was right there when I made the choice to leave, but in the excitement I didn't think to. Normally I would be annoyed with the extra back-and-forth of it, but now I was grateful for the chance to run a bit more, irritation rubbed away by exuberance.

I crash through the front room of the inn, bolting up the stairs before Piara has a chance to even greet me. I throw open the door to our room and Galley stops his work, looking up at me. “How fast can you get your guns put together?” I ask.

“Well, one's already done, I just need to put a few pieces back into place...” He trails off, noting the look on my face and the urgency in my voice. He narrows his eyes, suspicious. “What are you planning, Bod?”

“We are going to par-tay.” I answer, closing the door and running back outside. Nila stops me on my way to the door.

“Hey, hold on a second!” She exclaims, stepping on front of me and handing over a wrapped package. “There's some leftover stew and bread in there for you guys, it's not much, but it's all we could get on short notice. You guys come back and visit sometime, alright?”

I grin, dropping the food in my bag and stepping around her. “We will, thanks!” I say over my shoulder as I run out the door.

“Yeah, and... take... care of yourselves?” Nila calls uncertainly at my retreating back.

Hale is already at the gate, sitting under a tree and taking stock of her supplies. A new, gleaming sword is strapped to her back to replace the one she lost. It looks like it would have cost every piece of gold I gave her, which was all of my savings from the past month, but somehow that didn't bother me much.

She looks up as I approach, collecting all her things and placing them back in her bag. “This is a pretty sudden departure. What, did you get in some trouble?” She asks.

I grin, “Something like that. But it's all taken care of now.” She raises an eyebrow at that, but offers no comment. We're shortly joined by Galley, who look about as happy as I feel.

“It sounds like our good leader has great things in store for us!” He says, clapping me on the back. “Glorious par-tays await us, I think. The stuff of song and legend!”

“Like a dirge of mourning?” Hale grumbles. She seems on board with the idea of heading out, but my sudden enthusiasm probably looks to her like I've lost my mind. Maybe I have. Probably so.

Echo comes along next, pulling a small pony in tow behind her. It's an odd sight; most adventurers just summon their horses to them when they need them, but some people prefer the old-fashioned way of leading their horse place to place. Still, strange I haven't seen the horse before.

“Did you steal that?” Hale asks, sharp and accusingly.

“He's my horse.” Echo replies, defensive.

“Was he your horse five minutes ago?”

“He's my horse.” Echo insists, “And I'm bringing him with me when we leave town. Is that so odd?”

Hale rolls her eyes, sighing in exasperation. She stands up, reaching into her bag. “Bring him or not, you're riding with the giant. Someone needs to hold your leash--” She pulls the chain and shackles out of her bag, and I snatch it before she has a chance to put them on anyone.

I throw the chains as high in the air as I can, “Galley, pull!” I bark, and instantly, the giant has his pistols in hand, unloading a full barrage of mana bullets into the shackles. They fall into the stream in little, broken pieces. I turn to Hale, grinning with self-satisfaction.

“Those were expensive.” Her voice is low and harsh. Almost hostile.

“They were pointless.” I argue. “Echo is a member of our party now. If he wants to leave, it'll be on his own terms.” Echo looks like he wants to say something, but keeps quiet.

“Are you serious? That crook just stole somebody's horse!” Hale exclaims.

“Hm?” I look to Echo and his pony. “All I see is an adventurer and his trusty steed. Nothing wrong with that.” I say, earning a wry grin from the boy.

Hale glares, then turns away. “Hope you both fall of your horses...” She mutters, summoning her own horse and climbing into the saddle of it. Off to the side, Galley does the same. His giant-size horse looks like it could eat mine.

I grin, calling for Alin and hopping into the saddle when he appears. “We're heading for Dinberthorn, a big city south of here. It's a hotspot for adventurers; lots of dungeons around, lots of merchants to take advantage of it and people needing to hire parties. We should have no trouble finding quests there. Any questions?”

I pause, looking back at the party. “Why the sudden change of pace?” Hale asks.

I grin, “What do you mean? This is perfectly normal for a group of young and ambitious adventurers like ourselves.” I say, then urge Alin down the path and into the woods, feeling the familiar rush as my heart speeds and my blood boils in anticipation. No more sitting around, waiting, and chopping firewood. Now, we ride to the real adventures.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:34 am

hehehe....aaaaaaaand he's back on his feet. Off to par-tey everyone goes! XD
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:59 pm

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter Negative, the Third: The Breakthrough, the First Victory, and the Magical Wild

Before us was the ruins of the Western half of Feylake; burnt out, half demolished houses overgrown with weeds and ivy, dead trees and grass, goblins wandering about freely, unhindered. It was like in crossing the bridge, we had gone through a portal to another realm entirely, one of darkness and evil. I looked back across the bridge, and saw Feylake, as serene and bright as ever, then back at the nest of monsters before us. Had it always seemed so close?

A few of the closer goblins seemed to notice us; their eyes locked on, some of them crouched into cautious stances, some reaching for weapons. The putrid, green-skinned monsters were half the size of a full-grown man, but hardly a head shorter than my young self. They stared at us with dark yellow eyes, angry, wild, hungry.

I gulped, hesitating under the weight of their stares. Their eyes were so cold, so intense. So... devoid of caring and goodness and all that the people back home had. I took an involuntary step backward, and felt Noel's hand on my back.

“Steady, Bod.” She whispered. “We don't have to fight them all. Just get through.” Her familiar voice, using that encouraging tone she had, was gentle and soothing, but still firm and authoritative. It gave me the reassurance I needed to regain my composure and re-take that step I lost.

I nodded, taking a deep breath and drawing my sword. Calm down. Focus. Just like the goblins and spiders in the forest. I held my sword out in front of me, calmly leveling it with the goblins. The blade was as sharp as I could make it and polished enough to reflect the sun like a prism. Noel had frequently told me that it was almost pointless keeping my sword so dubiously maintained, since it would be constantly scuffed, dirtied and chipped as I used it more, but I kept at it, and she eventually gave up.

Now, I was starting to regret not heeding her advice, as the light reflected in the blade drew the attention of more goblins, and angered the ones already watching.

“Stay close.” I said, glancing back to see Noel nod, then faced forward. The nearest goblins were a pair standing right in the road, one holding a rusted long knife while the other had a knotted, wooden cudgel. I could see more of them peering out from a broken down house and starting to make their way out.

Without another thought or moment of hesitation, I charged straight for the pair in the road. I raised my sword, and the two monsters almost recoiled in surprise at my advance. In just a second, they were both brandishing their weapons and preparing to strike as soon as I got close enough.

I let out as strong a war cry as I could as I brought my sword down to strike.


My sword collided with the goblin's rusty long knife. The goblin was forced back a couple paces, until he was beyond the reach of my sword and pulled his weapon back.

Immediately, I whirled to the side, swinging my blade at the second goblin. His cudgel was raised to strike, but my sword hit him under the arm, cutting deeply and drawing thick, gooey brown blood. The goblin's eyes widened in pain and the cudgel fell from his hand.

I pulled my sword free, striking again quickly. This time I caught the goblin in the collar, and the monster dropped, wailing horrendously. That sound would haunt my dreams for weeks.

The first goblin had recovered from the shock of my opening blow and was now lunging at me, staying low, aiming for my ribs with his knife. I moved my sword down to parry, but misjudged the distance and caught the blade with the hilt of my own sword.

The rusty, jagged blade sliced through the leather wrappings on my sword handle and cut one of my fingers, but the wound was shallow and I could ignore it for the moment.

I lashed out with my foot and kicked the goblin's leg, tripping him, then batted the back of his head with the flat of my sword. He toppled to the ground, dead or merely unconscious, I didn't know, or care.

By this point, more goblins were pouring out from the houses and buildings nearby, a dozen of them at first, with more on the way. Way too many to fight all at once. I swept my view in a circle around me, there were more behind us than in front, and Noel was just standing there, watching them.

I grabbed her hand, pulling her a few steps, “Run!” I urged her, then ran forward again, past the goblins, sword raised to strike at any in my way.

We must have passed by a least fifty goblins in our mad dash through the overrun settlement, though only a few came within striking distance, and we made it out mostly unharmed.

“OK, OK, I think we're clear.” Noel called, out of breath, once we were out of sight of Gob-lake. We both slowed our pace gradually until we were completely stationary on the road, hunched over, hands on our knees, panting heavily.

“Well... That was it. We did it.” I said, looking back. We were gone and away from Feylake and past the goblins; the first step of my adventure was complete now.

“Sure did.” Noel agreed, straightening her back and grinning wryly as she tossed her hair over her shoulder. “So how about it? The first charge of Bod Oam. Was it every bit as glorious as you imagined?”

I grimaced, forcing myself to stand straight as well. I was sore and exhausted already and I don't think I had run that fast in my life, and all I wanted to do was collapse in the soft grass and go to sleep. But Noel wasn't hunched over and gasping for breath anymore, and there was no way I was going to let her look tougher than me.

“Not exactly.” I admitted. When I was young, I had delusions of cutting down hordes of goblins and liberating the lost half of our town single-handedly. Now, I could understand why it was taking the Duke and his men so long to take care of the problem.

Noel shrugged. “Well, y'know, it was probably cool anyway. Just didn't seem like it in the moment.” She said, though it was obvious she knew that wasn't the case.

I let out a surly “harrumph” as I wiped the gooey goblin blood off my sword in the grass, then returned the weapon to its sheath. “We shouldn't stick around here too long.” I said, surveying the area. Before us it was mostly wild, untamed forest surrounding the road. Varen was somewhere in the distance, but the tall forest trees hid the far-off city. This whole forest was technically goblin territory, though there was no telling if any of the beasts were still around this far out.

“Right.” Noel tugged at the strap running across her chest to adjust the sword on her back, then nodded. We continued down the road at a relaxed, but careful walk. Ears pricked, eyes sharp as we scanned the surrounding area. After years of living in the forest, no monster was going to get the jump on us.

A couple of spiders and an imp jumped out at us, but the most of the day passed by pretty uneventfully. As the sun began to set and color the sky pink, we found a small abandoned mining spot, Noel said it was likely supposed to be a stone quarry that had been left behind when monsters flooded through. Seeing no monsters in sight, we decided it would make a fine camping spot, and set up for the night.

Our camp was nothing more than our bedrolls and a small fire, and all we had was bread, water, and mashed cake for dinner, but it was still cozy as home and satisfying as a feast. We decided we should alternate between sleeping and keeping watch, and Noel drew the short straw to watch first.

I crawled into my bedroll, ignoring Noel's displeased pouting. As I was beginning to drift off to sleep, her voice reached my consciousness. “Hey, Bod?”


“I'm glad we made it.”

A smile spread across my face just as I gave in to dreams of the road ahead.

“Bod! Bod!” I was shaken awake by Noel, who leaned over me, whispering energetically. “Bod, get up! You have to see this!”

Groaning, I rolled away from her and curled up as best I could in my bedroll, but she grabbed the far end and pulled it out from under me. “Wake up Bod! Hurry!”

I reluctantly pushed myself up onto my knees, and Noel grabbed my arm, hoisting me up to my feet. “Hurry up! Come on, quietly.” She lead me to the edge of the camp, to the sloping dirt wall carved into the earth. The two of us climbed up and peered over the edge.

A small stream ran through the forest not too far off, and, illuminated by the starlight, I saw a large, pure white horse drinking from it. Suddenly the horse raised its head and looks into the woods, and I saw – not a horse, a unicorn! A long, thin horn protruded from the animal's head, pointing into the woods.

From the darkness of the trees, a large troll came lumbering toward the stream. The creature stood twelve feet tall, it's body covered by scraps of cloth and patches of thick, brown hair. It stopped once it saw the unicorn eying it and lowered it's stance slightly, long, gangly arms held out in front of it.

The two creatures watched each other for a long moment, the unicorn lowering its head to show off it's horn while it stamped the ground, and the troll swaying its arms back and forth and letting out a low growl.

Finally, the unicorn charged, running straight for the troll with its horn outstretched. The troll was ready, though; it leapt to the side and reached out, grabbing the unicorn by the haunches. The unicorn struggled, bucking and kicking, managing to plant a firm kick on the troll's face, knocking the creature back and freeing itself.

The unicorn scraped it's hoof in the dirt, readying for another charge, and the troll beat the ground angrily. At once, the two rushed each other, the unicorn jabbing with its horn while the troll lashed out with it's long arms.

The troll took a long gash along it's right arm, but then hit the unicorn with a wild swing, sending the equine off all four feet and sailing into a tree.

We heard the tree cracking as the unicorn hit it, and Noel and I both gasped, but the unicorn stood back up, clearly tougher than a regular horse, and lowered its head to charge again.

The troll regarded it, then huffed, pounding on the ground and jumping in place like an angered monkey as the unicorn made another charge. This time, the troll remained stationary, letting the unicorn get in close before trying to grab it.

The troll's large hands wrapped around the unicorn's neck, just as the beasts horn pierced the troll's belly. The troll let out a roar of pain, but didn't seem too affected, as it raised the unicorn up into the air and began slamming it into the ground and nearby trees.

After several hits, the troll calmed down and regarded the unicorn it held, limp in its hands.

“He killed it.” I whispered, but Noel shook her head silently.

The troll crouched down, reaching behind it's back for a large stone knife belted to it while still cradling the unicorn with its other hand.

Suddenly, the unicorn leapt back into action, kicking and rolling out of the troll's hand, it pushed off the ground and stabbed the troll straight through the chest. The troll roared again, louder, and backed away, swiping at the unicorn.

The equine pulled it's horn free and took a few steps back, only to attack again as the troll slumped to the ground. The unicorn rammed it's horn into the troll's stomach, then kept pushing until it backed the troll up to a tree.

The unicorn kept pushing against the troll, ignoring the blows coming down from the monsters long, gangly arms. The unicorn kept its opponent pinned against the tree until the troll stopped moving, and then it finally backed up, pulling it's horn, dripping with black blood, free and rearing up, neighing victoriously.

Noel and I both stare, spellbound, at the brutal yet majestic sight of the aftermath of the fight between the two creatures. After a moment of reveling in its victory, the unicorn settled down and looked through the foliage, right at us, and we gasp.

The unicorn stared straight at us, making eye contact with me for a moment, stamping the ground with it's hooves for a long, long moment. Then it shook it's head, snorting, and galloped off into the woods.

The two of us stayed quiet for a very, very long time, watching the forest where the unicorn had disappeared from sight. Finally, Noel let out a long sigh and lowered herself down to the base of the quarry. “That was a once in a lifetime sight.” She said.

I dropped to the ground next to her. “That was amazing.” I breathed, and she looked at me with a grin that almost crossed the line into a smirk. How was she never as moved by these things as I was?

“That's part of the world we're in now.” She said. “We're going to see even more amazing things as we go on across the world. Soon, we won't even remember Feylake anymore... Now, go back to bed. I'll wake you when it's your turn to keep watch.”

As I crawled back into my bedroll, I knew there was no way I would be able to sleep, not with the image of that fight so fresh in my mind, and thoughts of all kinds of things we would see in our--

And then I was asleep.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:02 am

Just want to take a second to point out... This is the tenth consecutive week I've been on time posting this. That's, like, two and a half months. I'm starting to feel OK about this schedule thing. Unfortunately for you expectant readers (if you're all still alive?), Camp NaNoWriMo is gonna wreck all of that in April. But for now, enjoy.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Fourteenth: The City, the Cult, and the Duo

Late afternoon the next day sees us riding into Dinberthorn. Compared to the cozy, sleepy village of Zid Caina, this place is practically a metropolis. We follow the road through the open gates into the city, and almost immediately we're in a bustling plaza filled with hundreds of people rushing to and fro. Merchants crowd the plaza, set up with no semblance of order, some with carts or stalls, some sitting on blankets filled with their wares. Lots of people are shouting, trying to do business or promote themselves over the constant flood of noise from the crowd.

Intermixed with the common people, the townsfolk, the merchants, we can spot adventurers. Wanderers, warriors, explorers and rogues of all shapes and sizes from all walks of life, from hulking giants in massive suits of armor to nimble elves carried with grace and elegance.

“That,” Hale remarks, staring into the writhing mass of people, trying to take it all in at once, “is a lot of people.”

I nod slowly. Dinberthorn isn't the largest city I've been to, not by a long shot, but the main plaza here is one of the most chaotic, crowded places I've seen in my life. The position near the gate by the major highway make it a hugely popular hotspot for traders and travelers alike. I slide down from Alin's saddle, releasing the bond and letting him fade away into a shower of lights. “Come on, let's find a place to stay.”

I lead the party on foot through the city. There are inns everywhere to accommodate for the massive supply of fresh travelers on a daily basis, and I know where the good ones are. And if we'll be based out of Dinberthorn for a while, we'll want to be staying in the good ones.

Away from that main plaza, about half of Dinberthon turns into a complex maze of side streets and back alleys, back roads between tightly packed buildings. For its population and level of business, Dinberthorn is a fairly small city inside the walls. The main reason is that outside the city wall is all farmland, and in order to expand the walls, they would have to move dozens of farms out farther, and that was no simple process. As a result, the businesses, residences, and whatever else was in Dinberthorn was crammed in tightly, and in some places there was barely enough room to move.

Our inn is a small building, almost indiscernible from the rest. I remember it being clean, the food being good, but most importantly, it was run by a grandmotherly type woman with endless patience for her patrons. With our group, that's probably the best match for us.

As the rest of the party is distracted by warm food and solid furniture to sit on after our long ride, I slip out of the inn and back into the narrow streets. I need to go and find some jobs to take on while the others recover from our trip.

All four roads out of town have notice boards where people could go and hang requests for work, and it's a good source of quests for adventurers; quick, easy, and right on the way out. I head for the nearest one of these now, navigating the cramped, small streets without too much difficulty.

I walk out of a narrow alley and into a wider street, though that only means it's more cluttered with boxes, garbage bins, and anything else that would fit there. I take a moment to stop, soaking in the cultured feel of the city. This area is tight, smells a bit odd, and would be called unpleasant by most, but I like it; it gives the city its own character. I enjoy taking a moment to be here, in the big city, knowing we're back into the adventuring business. It finally feels like things are going right.

And then a fireball flies past my face and singes my eyebrows off.

I barely have time to register the event as the fireball crashes into an outcropped building corner sticking out into the street. A man steps out from behind the corner and points a mana pistol down the road. “Get down!” He barks at me, and I comply instantly, narrowly avoiding his shots streaming through the air above me toward the caster of the fireball.

I roll to the side, staying low to avoid any stray projectiles, and crawl behind the relative safety of a stack of crates. Unfortunately for me, I'm not alone. A pair of men stand there, each wearing red and black robes and white masks adorned with a red letter. One man holds a fireball in his hand, and the other looks down at me with a start.

“A-another one!” He shouts, pointing down at me.

“By the Goddess! What is he wearing? It's hideous!” The other man exclaims. I think up a pointed comment to throw at Hale later, courtesy of my offensively horrendous robe.

“Get it out of here!” The men begin kicking me while I'm down by their feet, and I have to roll back out into the open to get away from them. A stream of lightning erupts above me, and a mana bullet pings off a streetlamp next to me.

Enough. I grab a control bar from my belt, using it to send out mana strings and grab the arm of the man holding the fireball. A quick jerk of my hand makes him slam the fireball into the chest of his ally, and I leap away before they can react further to me.

I have no idea what's going on, but one party in this firefight has not outright attacked me, so I make a snap decision to run toward the gunner. I dash down the street, trying to take as much cover as I can, and finally come sliding around the corner where the man with the guns is.

He's in the middle of reloading, and doesn't look concerned by my appearance at all. There's a woman next to him, cheerfully playing a violin, of all things, off to the side. She stops for a moment as I join them, “Ooh, look, a new guy! Hello!” She says, then resumes playing her song.

I stand up and press my back against the wall next to the gunner, drawing the bow off my back and knocking a couple of arrows. “All right, so who are you and what are we fighting?” I ask, leaning out of cover to loose a few arrows.

“Hunters, prey.” The man replies, stepping out into the street. He raises a shield in one hand and a pistol in the other, strafing to a stack of barrels on the other side of the street while firing rapidly. His gun is noticeably different in design than Galley's, but aside from the louder firing I don't have time to note specifics.

So I've gotten dragged into a fight between a gunner and his musician friend, and... At least a dozen robed men, a quick glance reveals. I have no idea who either of them are or what the fight's about, but I may never learn if I just hightail it out, so I keep shooting.

The robed men look to be mostly mages, some clearly on different skill levels, but the gunner and I manage to hold the position well enough on our own. It's almost uncanny, the speed and accuracy the two of us fight with, from loading and shooting to dodging magical projectiles, everything seems a little quicker, clearer, sharper.

Eventually, the weakness of all mages kicks in, and the incoming spells slow down as their casters run low on mana. They begin to retreat, firing fewer and fewer spells to cover themselves. The gunner runs after them, but soon returns to the woman and I just as his companion's song ends. As the last note fades, the world returns to its normal state, a little slower, a little duller.

“Let me guess, they all got away?” The woman asks, lowering the violin from her collar and tweaking a few strings. The gunner nods, and the woman sighs. “Well, it's pretty much what we expected. Bet they split up and scurried away like rats. They'd be impossible to follow here.” Her disappointment is quickly washed away as her face brightens and she takes a step toward me. “But look! Here's someone! Who are you, little man?”

I grimace, displeased. The woman is a good several inches taller than me, which is boosted by her high heels. The man is even taller. Swallowing my wounded pride, I pull my bow on to my back and cross my arms. “Bod Oam, adventurer.” I answer, nodding toward the pair, “and you two?”

The woman whips her bow down to the side and holds her violin to her chest, bowing formally as she introduces herself. “Fang Flow, or Flow Fang, doesn't matter. Combat bard and musician extraordinaire, pleasure to meet you!” Her hair is long and white, maybe a few shades darker than my own, unbound and cut only to keep her bangs out of her eyes. She wears a long, frilly dress, white like her hair, with blue accents that match her eyes.

“A combat bard?” I ask, mildly surprised. A rarer class of adventurers that expound upon the mundane music of bards. Many people with low combat abilities use music in battle to invigorate their allies, basically setting the mood to make them feel more confident and heroic in battle. But there are some who actually use magic through their songs to strengthen their allies. A song from a combat bard could enhance reflexes, speed the mind, sometimes even grant an ally increased strength or speed. That explained the sense of clarity and uncanny speed and accuracy I felt during the fight.

Fang smiles, pleased that someone recognizes the rarity of her skills. “I can turn the tide of entire battle as easy as lull a child to sleep. But do you know what role I fill that is even more important?” She allows me a second to think, and I shrug. “A storyteller! I keep the old stories and legends of heroes and villains alive, and chronicle whatever tales I can witness. A very important job, yes?”

Again, I shrug. The importance of history is dependent on who you ask, honestly. But as someone brought up on those very legends, I can't deny the part they've played in steering my fate. “I suppose.” I finally answer, then turns to the gunner, who is reloading fresh mana bullets into his pistols. Curious; all the mana pistols I've seen draw mana directly from the user instead of needing to be manually reloaded. “What about your friend?” I ask.

The bard looks to her companion, who doesn't seem to notice, and slaps her bow against his leg. Finally, he looks back up at us.

He actually wears a bandolier running across his chest full of extra bullets. He has a second pistol holstered at his waist, and a sword strapped to his back. In stark contrast to Fang, who looks ready to take the stage, the gunner looks very... traveled. His clothes have a layer of dust on them, his dark blonde hair is disheveled, and he has a rough beard coming in, unattended. “Bore.” He says simply as he snaps the cylinder of his gun back into place and slides the weapon into its holster.

“He doesn't talk much.” Fang says in an exaggerated whisper, holding one hand to the side of her mouth in an “effort” to keep her companion from hearing her. “Well, that was pretty exciting. Thanks for the help! Most people just kinda, y'know, ran away when they saw the fight. I guess you're wondering what that was about, huh?”

“That... is one of several questions I have.” I answer, nodding slightly. Another one was how Mr. Gloomy was in a team with Ms. Sunshine, but it struck me how similar they were to Galley and Hale.

“Well, we're on a quest, see.” Fang began, “At first, we were investigating this weird cult that popped up recently. They were doing some pretty weird stuff, but it was all, y'know, kinda normal for cults. Then, they started growing, gaining a lot of members and influence. Pretty soon, our goal changed from gathering information to hunting them down and putting a stop to whatever nefarious machinations they're putting into action. What you walked in on was just a skirmish with a group we've been tracking for a while.”

When she finishes, Bore sighs, crossing his arms. “You talk too much.” He tells his companion simply.

I shrug, “Hey, if I could keep my party focused on a quest, we'd be halfway across the continent searching for some long forbidden artifact of ancient power or something. Don't worry about me cutting in on your work.”

I haven't heard of any cults gaining power recently, but I suppose it isn't too abnormal. Most cults are small groups, dedicated to weak or forgotten gods, or some other obscure diety. Occasionally, one would rise up with a surge of power from new members and start causing trouble, but they'd be knocked down pretty quickly by all numbers of adventurers banding against them. Adventurers and cultists don't usually get along well.

“So, how long do--” I began, but was interrupted b a loud cry from the street.

“Beware, you blasphemous fiends!” Bore and I step out, hands on our weapons, prepared for round two with the enemy forces. A lone man stands in the street, wearing the same dark robe and white mask the rest had been, arms outstretched as he shouts at us. “For judgment is coming upon you! Soon, our Holy Mother shall return, and bathe your world in pain and suffering!”

Something about the man seems familiar, but I can't quite... Wait... Those robes, that mask...

Bore goes to draw, but I motion for him to hold his fire, and the cultist guy flinches. “Hold on, who shot first?” I ask, raising my voice so the cultist can hear as well.

“Them, totally.” Fang replies.

“Eh, erg... W-well, we did, of course!” The cultist agrees, “These impudent heathens were spying upon a gathering of our Holy--”

“And do you have any idea how many laws you broke?” I cut him off. “Assault with unrestrained magic energy? Careless use of arcane forces? Disturbing the peace? Buddy, I could go to the guard right now and get the lot of you arrested, and issue a cease and desist to your organization. Your entire cult would shut right down!”

The man gasps, recoiling at the very thought. “B-but, you, you can't do that! I-I mean...” He coughs to clear his throat, and takes a deep breath, composing himself. Suddenly, he jabs a finger at us, “You can not overrule the great power given to us by our Holy Mother! She presides above all mortal law And when she comes, you--”

“And another thing,” I continue, “didn't I already meet you in Arbie Dungeon, trying to deface public property? You are in a world of trouble right now, man.”

The man stops mid-rant, finger curling slowly back into his hand. “U-uh, that was, it, I... Y-you faithless, uh, b-belligerent, um, fool! I do not answer to your laws! I am a priest of her Holin--”

“Hey, hold on there, I'm just trying to help you.” I say, holding up my hands to calm the man, “Here, let me walk you through this. See, you've got your little cult, with your weird patron diety, and that's great, really. You have a very important, if thankless, role in society.”

The man seems taken aback, and he pauses. “U-um, thank you,” he finally says, “not many outside our order recognize the value--”

“See, if it weren't for whack jobs like you, sane people wouldn't have anyone to mock to make themselves feel better.” I cross my arms, forging onward. “But, look, buddy, you can't just go shooting at random passersby just because they overhear your meeting, gathering, thing. Heck, I bet you weren't even hidden or anything, were you?”

“W-well... We were outside a storefront, but nobody seemed to mind...”

“See? And then you get all uppity when someone walks by and hears? That's not right.”

“B-but, these heathens, these spies were watching our gathering, trying to gather information to use against us!”

I shrug, “or maybe they were interested, prospective new members. But you scared them off with that show of force, huh?” I glance at Bore and Fang.

“Oh, I was absolutely terrified!” Fang says over dramatically, swaying and holding a hand to her brow. “I feel faint, could someone call me a coach? I must get away from these terrible cultists, lest I be beholden to any more of their foul violence!”

“So scared.” Bore says, monotone. “Life flashed before my eyes.”

“See? These are two people that will never want to join your group. Is your Sacred Mommy or whoever happy with that?” I ask, gesturing to the duo without breaking eye contact with the cultist. Or, I think so, at least. It's hard to tell through that mask.

“U-um, well, I suppose she wouldn't be, no...” The man says. He sounds like a child being scolded by a parent, now.

“Well, as long as you understand that, we can move to the next point.” I continue, placing a hand on the scorched stone of the building we had used for cover. “See this? There was a lot of property damage as a direct result of your... altercation. Someone has to fix this, and someone else has to pay for it. That's not cheap. I don't suppose your cult was planning to foot the repair bill, much less do the work yourself?”

“Ah, w-well... It is not in alignment with the Holy Mother's teaching that her chosen priests should do the work of--”

“So you weren't!” I interrupt, “You were just going to flee, making this a hit and run incident. And who was going to pay for all the damages? These two? They would have to, as the only parties involved that are still present. And we've already established that you were the ones at fault here. Does it seem very fair that you, the guilty party, would run away and leave these guys to clean up the mess you made?”

“We haven't even enough money to buy food!” Fang cried, cradling her violin in her arms. “Alas, we were robbed just out of sight of the city gates, I shall have to sell my poor instrument just to afford a place to sleep out of the rain tonight!” I have to admit, she's a surprisingly good actress.

I look to her, not quite surprised to find tears in her eyes. Bore places a comforting hand on her shoulder, looking slightly crestfallen himself. I turn my gaze back to the cultist, whose shoulders are sagging and he looks ready to break down in tears for the “unfortunate” duo. At least, I think he does. Hard to tell with the mask. “For shame.” I mouth to him silently.

“W-we, I mean, perhaps our people can, ooh...” The man tries to find something comforting to say, but seems to be coming up short. “W-well, I'm at least glad no one was hurt from this unfortunate event.”

“Oh, weren't they?” I ask, “What about your friends? I saw a handful of them take some pretty bad hits. I mean, I managed to score some pretty good shots myself. while doing my civic duty and protecting this innocent pair of victims, of course. But I think several people were hurt. And what about them? Will they be seen to, cared for? Does your cult offer proper insurance protection to the men and women who risk life and limb there? What if these two outsider had been hurt? Would you have been able to help them?”

“My mother was killed by a stray fireball.” Bore deadpans. “Walking down the street one moment, then poof. Gone.” It's almost impossible to not laugh out loud at this point.

By this point, the cultist is openly weeping. I can hear his sobbing and sniffling from all the way down the street. He looks ready to sink to his knees and start bawling. I think. Mask. “I-I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! W-we didn't mean for this to happen!”

I sigh, shaking my head wistfully. “So rarely do men intend for the consequences of their actions to be so dreadful.” I say. “This was a very dangerous situation, you realize. You could have been hit in the left shoulder by a mana bullet, or the right shoulder by an ice spike.” I glance back pointedly at Bore, who nods curtly. “I met a man once who had a cousin with a brother that was married to a woman who's second uncle died of mana poisoning from an untreated wound. I hope you realize how fortunate you were to avoid such a fate.”

The cultist keeps weeping, racking his shoulders as he sobs. He digs out a tissue from his robes and stuffs it up his mask. “T-truly, the Holy Mother's protection was over us this day, those who were unharmed.” He says between sobs.

I nod, then think for a second, and shrug. “Sure was, guy.” I say, nodding. “Now, I have a few recommendations for your cultist buddies to help prevent unfortunate episodes like this in the future. Number one,” Bore's hand goes to his pistol, “be more accepting of outsiders. Two,” The air around my hand chills, a cloud of frost forming around it, “be willing to take responsibility for your actions. Three!

In the same instant, I fling an ice spike and Bore draws his pistol, firing it. We each hit the cultist in one shoulder, and he topples over onto his back. “Don't be so stupid.” I conclude.

“Ooh, a prisoner! We can interrogate him!” Fang exclaims, clapping her hands together as best she can while holding her instrument. “That wasn't half bad, little guy, you have a remarkable way with words. You should consider being a bard!”

I shrug, “I tried it once. Didn't pan out.” I say. "But you weren't half bad, either. Quick thinking in there, and a great performance with it." That earns a proud smile from the bard.

Fang and Bore walk over to the writhing, still weeping cultist on the ground, standing over him. After a moment, Bore holsters his pistol, grabs the cultist by his robes, and drags the prisoner away, down the street. Fang takes a moment to look back at me, smiling brightly as she waves, then turns to re-join her companion.

After a moment, I turn and get back to my own job; meeting other adventurers in nice and all, but our party still needs something to do. Still, I don't get caught up in sudden firefights and make people cry just by talking very often. it was a most refreshing experience. Unfortunately, it came at the cost of my eyebrows.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Mar 18, 2016 9:16 pm

Of course, after that announcement last week, I come within forty five minutes of missing my schedule, but I MADE IT! I'm actually out of town and on my phone right now, so all the last-minute editing I usually do is down to a minimum, but... deal with it. It's still here, so there. Ha.

But seriously, some formatting and spacing may have gotten messed up pretty badly. Sorry about that.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Fifteenth: The Road, the Raft, and the Regret

“Galley, behind you!”

The giant starts at my warning, taking a glance over his shoulder. He whirls around and brings his greatsword up just in time to block an incoming attack from the giant lycan behind him. The hulking, wolf-man hybrid leans in close and snarls, and Galley disengages with a powerful shove, moving the creature away for a moment.

Back to back with Galley, Hale fights a second of the creatures, dodging and weaving, avoiding swings and thrusts with razor-sharp claws and returning strikes with her blades. She's faring well, for the moment.

“Your plan didn't mention lycans.” Echo remarks, taking a stance beside me and sending ice shards into the fray as accurately as he could. He isn't the first one to point out this deviation.

“Last time I came, it was a succubus.” I hiss, loosing a pair of arrows. They both practically bounce right off the boss' tough hide. Again. We need something with more force...

“You're starting to get a habit of pitting us against the wrong boss monster.” Echo continues. “I mean, seriously, do you just have a bad memory, or are they all on, like, a rotating schedule? 'Hey it's Tuesday, minotaur, you get Arbie, hill giant, you get Rabid.'”

I hiss in annoyance at his non-stop chattering, cutting in on my plan cobbling. I rush forward, switching to my control bars and summoning my marionette. “Galley, springboard!”

The giant looks at me for a moment in confusion, then grins. “Aye-aye!” He shouts, giving his lycan a solid kick to knock it back. He then whirls around, swinging his sword straight over Hale's head, forcing the second lycan to take a defensive stance to counter it. As his blade connects with the lycans claw, Galley spins the sword over head and moves into a thrust, planting the point of the blade on the werewolf's stomach.

As the giant steps aside, my marionette sweeps in, swinging its sledgehammer around like a whirlwind. It plants a hit firmly on the pommel of the greatsword, and the weapon is shoved through the werewolf, blade erupting from the monster's back.

Hale sees the opportunity right away, and seizes it. She leaps up onto the greatsword, uses it to spring onto Galley's shoulder, and from there she launches herself into the other lycan, catching it mid-charge and taking the creature's head with a single clean stroke of her longsword.

As the dead monsters topple to the ground, we all take a moment to catch our breaths and recover. This marks the third dungeon we've cleared in a week, a new record for us. We've been clearing dungeons and completing quests and tasks at an almost startling rate since coming to Dinberthorn. Nothing like demon hunting or reforging legendary weapons, but certainly better than harvesting wheat.

“Ahahaha! Well done little lady! You learn quick, and think quicker!” Galley roars, giving Hale a congratulatory slap on the back. The swordswoman stumbles under the force of the giant's strength, and glares upward at him, silent.

The two of them have been working better together lately. I've been focusing on tactics that would force the two of them to work as a pair in battle, in the hopes they would grow more comfortable with each other. Galley needs little prodding, but Hale is still as cold as an ice wraith to him. They don't interact much outside battle, but when fighting, they can work well together, and that's really all I can ask.

“Well, we managed another win,” Echo says, stowing away his wand and cracking his knuckles, “Somehow.”

It's taken a little more work to integrate Echo into the party. I had to almost bribe him with promises of riches and treasure if he stayed with us, and he seems satisfied with his share of the loot from dungeons and missions. He still threatens to leave on a daily basis, but hasn't acted on it, yet. He and Hale still snap at each other, but it's a sibling thing, as far as I can tell, so there's nothing for it.

“Yep. Somehow.” I agree, nodding. “You know, no matter how bad the situation gets, it's nice to know I have a party that's fully supportive and has confidence in us. That's a big help.”

“I do what I can for ya, boss.” Echo huffs, waving a hand dismissively as he makes for the treasure room.

Back at the inn, the four of us lounge around the room we've rented. Galley stretches out on the couch, with his head stretching far enough to set on the desk next to it, and his leg sits a chair off the side. Hale runs a whetstone down the edge of her sword, and Echo places his money pouch into a small safe he bought to ensure none of us touch his earnings.

I sit at the desk, leaning over some papers, shoving Galley's head away whenever he rolls it too close. “And fourteen hundred gold apiece, plus two hundred from the magic boots...” I mutter, jotting down the numbers of our earnings on a sheet of paper. Bookkeeping is an important part of adventuring that most people overlook. Mostly because it's the most boring thing on Prism.

Finally, unable to bear the strain of numbers and notes any longer, I lean back and press my hands against the desk, rocking my chair onto its back legs.

“We don't have anything planned for the next few days.” I announce. None of the others so much as glance at me, but I know they're listening. Pretty sure, anyway. “Any suggestions for an adventure? Or should I just check the notice board again?”

“Paaar-tay!” Galley says, pumping one fist into the air. The expected contribution, honestly.

“I've heard about a new attraction on Fyelma.” Hale says, “everyone swears up and down that river rafting in the deep jungles is the best way to get some loot these days.”

“I'll look into it.” I say, scribbling a note of it down on the paper in front of me.

“Well, I will be out of town all next week. I'm meeting some... associates, for another planned activity.” Echo says.

“Is it legal?” Hale asks.

“Does it matter?”

“A little.”

“But only a little.” Echo sounds determined, and Hale rolls her eyes in resignation.

“You do know, we're not breaking you out if you get locked up.” I tell the urchin.

“Psh, the day I need you to break me out, I deserve to be locked up.” Echo laughs.

“As if you don't already...” Hale mutters, setting down the whetstone and taking a rag dipped in oil, rubbing it onto her sword.

“Anyways,” I seize the conversation back, “the three of us will go rafting in Fyelma, Echo will be on his own. I'd like to try and take up a larger scale quest to work on, instead of just 'reduce the local populace of hostile monsters.' Keep an ear out for anyone higher up on the totem pole looking for adventurers.”

The party responds with affirmative grunts, and I snap our ledger book shut. A lot of party leaders would take this opportunity to say something like, “We're doing good, but we can get even better!” or “I see a lot of great improvement, keep it up!” But this party is a little different. Confident encouragement just weirds them out, so instead I leave them with “Remember to clean up after yourselves,” as I leave the room.

From his vantage point on the third floor of the building across the street, Echo watches through the open window as his party warps together to Fyelma. All three at once, gone. Good, he had been worried they would try to tail him and keep him out of trouble. At least they don't feel the need to baby him, even if Hale isn't happy about it.

Echo hops out the window, landing easily on the street below, going into a crouch, but otherwise unaffected by the fall. The boy sticks his hands into his pockets to protect them from the slight chill in the air, cursed winter was moving in early, and heads down the street.

No one pays attention to him as he walks, head down, sticking to the edge of the street. Dinberthorn is a busy place, and nobody really cares about anyone else's business, making it very easy to pass through crowds unnoticed. Ordinarily, this would be an ideal environment for some pickpocketing, but Echo isn't concerned with such things today.

Undisturbed on the way through the city, Echo reaches the gate out of town, where Margaret waits for him. The pony chews the grass outside town idly, showing no inclination to move away and free itself, despite not being tied or penned in anywhere. Echo appreciates that; the animal is smart enough not to cause trouble for him.

“All right, Marge, let's get going.” Echo whispers to the pony as he rubs its mane for a moment before hopping up into the saddle. Honestly, he isn't sure if the pony understands him, or if he's just talking to a brick wall. Well, he doesn't even know for sure the pony is a girl; he may have named a poor man-pony Margaret. He shrugged, the beast hasn't complained yet, so there clearly isn't a problem.

The urchin briefly checks the pony's saddlebags to make sure his safe is still present there, holding all of his earnings from his time with the party. A decent amount, he figured. Finding it untouched, Echo turns back to the road, lightly tapping Marge with his feet. The pony slowly begins plodding forward, as if considering whether or not it really wants to move or not.

Echo rolls his eyes. “Maybe I should use all this hard earned money to buy a horse that actually works.” he says, and Marge obligingly moves a little faster over the road. Not much, bit at this point every bit helps to ease the mind-numbing slowness of the sleepy pace.

After a short flight over Fyelma's jungles, we arrive at a small outpost along the river. A little wooden shack has been built at the water's edge, and a short pier anchors a half dozen rafts floating lazily, tied to posts to prevent them floating away.

An ancient, overgrown Mana Road portal sits at the edge of the jungle clearing, and it lights up as we approach, humming softly. We all place a hand on it, adding it to our ever-growing list of portals we've linked to. We'll be able to use this to warp across the continent when we're done here.

“Right, so, rafting. How's this supposed to work?” I ask, looking between Hale and the rafts in the river.

“We'll go rent a raft from somebody working here. Then we sail down the river, and get loot.” the girl answers.

“Just like that?” I ask, raising an eyebrow skeptically. It can't possibly be that simple.

Hale shrugs, and I roll my eyes, “Fine, let's go get a raft.” There turns out to be a cheerful woman in the small riverside shack, and she follows us out to the pier and unties a raft once we're all on.

“Remember to keep all hands and feet inside the raft at all times.” the woman gives us a cheerful safety speech as she holds to rope, preparing to let us drift away. “If one of your party members is willingly or forcibly removed by the raft, please don't even think about diving in after them. The current is strong, and you'll both die. We can only handle so many lawsuits, OK? For the sake of safety or persons and property, every raft is enchanted with powerful physical and anti-magic wards, rendering each one virtually indestructible. As a side effect, this means that summoning of all kinds is blocked by the wards, however, more common forms of magic will still apply. Please keep track of your kill count so that we may reward you adequately at the end of your journey. We are not responsible for any injuries, fatalities, diseases of a mundane of magical nature, soul rot, loss or destruction of personal property, or any other grievous consequences you may face. Have fun out there!”

She releases the rope, waving us off merrily, and I feel second thoughts forming about this. “Hale, why was that safety spiel so in-depth, do you suppose? And why do you think it had a disclaimer at the end saying anything we get done to us is our own stupid fault?”

The swordswoman shrugs, “legal reasons?”

“Maybe. I think we just walked into something stupidly dangerous. Again.”


The trip down the river begins smoothly enough. As far as we can see, the water is still and calm, a picturesque, idyllic scene. Tranquil, peaceful. The day is warm, but the breeze along the river is cool, and there isn't a cloud in the sky to block the radiant sunlight.

Then... we start seeing the hints that something's going wrong. Scratches in the stones that jut out of the water, broken equipment we see resting at the bottom of the river, through the clear water. A man drifting along slowly, face up, with an arrow in his chest. He looks towards us as or raft passes him, reaching an arm out to grab the vessel, but its out of reach.

“Well, that's decidedly foreboding.” I say, arms crossed, looking back at the wounded man.

“Yep, we probably made a terrible choice here.” Hale says, and I nod in agreement.

Soon, the bank on either side of us rises up into steep hills, putting us between two walls of solid, sheer rock face. I lie on my back on the raft, hands joined together under my head. As I stare up at the sky, partially on guard for any threats, I see activity at the top of the ridge as a dozen shapes come out of the thick jungle. “Goblins!” I remark cheerfully, “and what's this? They have bows! Delightful!”

I pull my legs in quickly, avoiding a pair of arrows that bounce off the raft, and quickly push myself up onto my feet, drawing my control bars. Hale unsheathes her swords, and Galley draws his mana pistols right as an arrow hits his greatsword from behind.

I look back and see goblins appearing on the opposite ridge, these also wielding bows. “There's more of them, guys! This is the best day over!”

“All right, hush.” Hale bites, looking up at the goblins as Galley begins firing. Without a gun or a bow, Hale can't do anything to attack from this distance.

That problem is resolved in short order, as goblins lean off the ridges and fall off, headfirst, toward our raft. They flip in the air just before contact with the vessel, crouching into a nice three-point landing that rocks the raft, wicked swords held in their free hands. Clearly, they've been trained and have experience with this.

“Oh, I'm so happy we came, aren't you guys?” I squeal, and Hale stomps on my foot as we come back to back, facing the goblins. I smirk, raising my control rods and going to summon my marionette.

The puppet does not appear.

“Huh?” I look down at my control rods as the goblins charge. Nothing seems wrong with the weapons, but I can't call my marionette. Troubling. I duck under the first goblin's swing, and sidestep a thrust from the second, spinning around and giving him a boot to the back to send him forward, straight off the raft.

These goblins are clearly only distant cousins of the ones native to the area around Feylake. Whereas those were hunched, green things without the intelligence to grasp basic grammar, these brown-skinned goblins are taller, lankier creatures, stronger, smarter, faster, with eyes that showed greater intellect and malevolence.

Metal collides behind me as Hale engages the enemy, and Galley weaves across the raft with his characteristic uncanny agility of a giant, firing at the archers remaining on the ridges. And I still can't summon my marionette.

I use the control rods to deflect a sword blow from the goblin still facing me, then step in and plant my elbow firmly in the creature's face. As it reels, I try to call my puppet forward again. Nothing.

I send out mana strings to catch the charging goblin, and they wrap around the creature, binding it in place. So it's not the control rods... I think as the strings begin to choke the life out of the goblin. So why can't I--

“As a side effect, this means that summoning of all kinds is blocked by the wards...”

“Well, bully for me!” I exclaim, yanking the held goblin close and kicking it in its ugly nose, then whipping the strings and throwing it off the raft. Apparently, my marionette counts as a summoned creature to the wards on this thing. Great.

Hale is fending off three goblins, swinging her pair of swords around in a whirlwind that almost hurts to look at. I decide to offer support from behind, and grab one goblin with my mana strings, pulling it into the furiously spinning storm of steel.

Hale glances back at me, “what, no wooden kid today?” she asks.

“Wards are blocking it.” I answer, stepping up next to her, “looks like I'm stuck without for today.”

“Aww, do the nice goblins not wanna see da widdle man's puppet show?”

“Oh, shut it.”

The goblins rush us, and we each move to intercept one, Hale cutting her opponent down with ease while I uppercut the other one, then shove him into the water, blasting a lightning bolt at him for good measure.

Galley keeps shooting at the archer goblins, but the raft soon carries us outside of their range, and the arrows cease to his the vessel. We lower our weapons, taking a moment to catch our breath after that ambush.

“Well, come on, that wasn't too bad.” Hale says, sticking one foot in the water to wash the goblin blood off her boot.

“'Nother party, comin' in!” Galley reports, pointing to the ridge ahead of us. I follow his gaze, and see another group of goblins already breaking cover, archers drawing bows while skirmishers prepare to leap. I even see a couple shamans cradling fireballs.

I swap for my bow, preparing to return fire. “Hale doesn't get to make suggestions anymore.”

Two hundred arrows, fourteen phoenix feathers, and a whole pack of potions later, we make it to the end of the ride. In all, we went through five goblin ambushes, each one filled with increasingly elite warriors, brutal archers, and powerful shamans.

“I'm all for challenging adventures, but this is a bit much.” I say as the docking station comes into view. It's a very similar setup to the one at the beginning; a pier, a tiny shack, several free rafts, and an ancient Mana Road portal on the edge of the encampment.

“You're exaggerating. It really wasn't so bad.” Hale insists, though she went down almost as much as I did.

“Par... part... ugh...” Galley weakly pumps a fist in the air from his position lying at the edge of the raft. It seems between stepping on the raft and now, the giant has developed seasickness.

“No, no, it really was.” I say.

Our raft bumps into the pier, and the attendant grabs the rope and begins tying it to a post. “Congratulations! You made it to the first checkpoint! You may now safely disembark, take some time to recover form the first leg of your journey, and prepare for the next. If you wish to end your river adventure now, you may!”

“There's more to this thing?” I say, incredulous. “Ugh, no thanks. We're done here. And now we know better than to get on any kind of watercraft, or trust newbie adventurers to provide good adventures.”

As I step up to climb onto the pier, Hale's eyes narrow. A swift stroke of her sword severs the rope and sends us drifting back down the river. “I think we'll take the whole tour, thank you!” She calls to the surprised attendant.

Galley moans softly as we resume moving, and I narrow my eyes at Hale. “Our deaths are on you.”

Another awful, rotten day out here... Meredith thinks, leaning back on the hind legs of her chair, setting her feet on the desk. A week on the job, and already, the horrible, almost palpable boredom threatens to destroy her. No one comes out here, this deep into the jungle. Nobody uses the Mana Road. Nobody even reaches this point on the rafts, all the adventurers quit at one of the checkpoints well before this point.

They had promised her an exciting job, where she would be able to meet new people and share in the victorious celebrations as adventurers conquered the river rafting course and all the hazards it held.

“Lies, lies all of it.” She grumbles to herself, peering out the window at the river. It holds she same sight she's seen every day since coming out here: water! “Of course, nobody would be suicidal enough to actually try and get to the end. And even if they were, no one would make it!”

All Meredith has done so far is grab the stray rafts, devoid of occupants, from the river as they float by. Rafts don't celebrate.

“Speaking of which...” She narrows her eyes, peering into the distance. Yep, down the river, another raft floats in, with no one standing on it. The woman rolls her eyes, stepping outside and walking to the pier to catch it.

As the raft drifts closer, Meredith came make out three crumpled, broken forms splayed out on the surface of the raft. The small one almost makes her sick with its robe. “Oh, gross...” So far, all the dead adventurers have fallen of their rafts by this point; this is the first time there's been anything left on the raft by the time it reaches her.

“They don't pay me enough for this...” The woman grumbles, catching the, abnormally short, rope and tying it to the pier. She puts her hands on her hips and looks down at the three dead adventurers, perplexed. She hadn't been given any pheonix feathers to revive someone out here, she was supposed to be alone!

“Well, nothing for it, guess I'll just roll you guys into the river. Sorry, nothing personal.” She tells the corpses as she kneels by the first one, the smallest, placing her hands on it to shove it off the raft.

The corpse jerks, raising its head to stare at her. White skin, haggard face, sunken eyes. Meredith recoils, yelping at the sight. The man sucks in a hoarse breath. “At last,” the dead man gasps, “sanctuaryyyyyyy...”

“Kyaaaaah!!!” Meredith leaps from the raft, sprinting to the jungle to save herself from the undead abominations that have haunted the raft.

And Meredith was never seen again.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:56 am

Ohmygosh I am dying laughing right now. Poor Meredith, why'd you have to scare her like that XD
And its okay, lack of editting wasn't so terrible. Ya did good mate.
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:01 am

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Sixteenth: The New Quest, the Strange Island, and the Wings of Fate

And again, I'm back at the Dinberthorn notice board. We left Zid Caina to get away from the lazy, sleepy, repetitive life of predictability and normalcy, but it's surprising to realize just how our time here is becoming more and more mundane. We go on adventures and quests, doing jobs and missions and earning rewards, honing our skills, but in a way it seems like we haven't really moved on. We've changed the activities, but the repetitive schedule is the same.

I cross my arms, frowning at the thought. Something just seems to be lacking from it all, though I can't for the life of me figure out what. We're being real adventurers, so how does it not feel right yet? The others don't seem to mind; Hale throws herself fully into every dungeon and raid we have, Echo goes along without complaint, and Galley is... Galley. Why am I the only one that thinks this isn't good enough yet?

I sigh, shaking my head and pushing the question away for the moment. I'll have time to contemplate things later, but for now, we need a job. Something big, preferably. Large scale, important, more than just the usual requests to clear out a bandit den or a hive of monsters.

In the wall of white and brown parchment nailed to the board, one particular note sticks out; overlaid with some kind of reflective gold sheet that shines in the sunlight, with larger, more grandiose writing than all the rest. Pegged to the notice sheet is an envelope of fine paper. Curious, I lean in and peer at the note, blocking the gold reflection with my hand.

”Calling all intrepid adventurers!” The note reads, ”Are you a delver of ancient ruins? Do you live for the thrill of danger? If so, then I have a job for you! For you see, I am a collector of artifacts both rare and ancient, and my pocketbook is so deep... that I have a pocketbook, instead of a coin pouch like all of you! Haha!

I roll my eyes. Another conceited, rich collector using adventurers as disposal tools. I've worked for my share of them, and they are, without fail, spoiled, arrogant, conceited... and they pay better than anyone and have great quests to hand out, so I keep reading.

”All joking aside, my dear, danger-seeking friends, I have caught wind of an artifact that I would very much like to add to my collection. It is an amulet called the Wings of Fate, an important trinket from an ancient, now lost religion. I can assure you, the work to retrieve the Wings will be immensely dangerous, and it will not be simple. I can tell you the last known location of the Wings, but there is no telling what the ages may have done with them. It may not be a simple treasure hunt, but rest assured, I will reward you adequately.

Now of course, I don't want multiple parties of adventurers killing one another over the job and losing the amulet, you see. So, if you will accept this quest, along with the responsibilities, and the dangers, and the rewards, that come with it, then take this note and the attached envelope, which contains further details for the quest for you, and only you. I would advise you tell no one else of the nature of your quest. Good luck, my dear friends.”

I roll my eyes. That job sounds stupid, dangerous, vague and I can't snatch the notice down fast enough. I open the envelope and pore over the information inside as I walk away. Finally, a chance for a real quest!

“My rafting was too dangerous for you...” Hale says slowly, reading over the job notice again, “So you decided to grab the most deadly, high-risk quest in the region to throw us all on. Yes, of course,I do see the reasoning there.”

“That was different.” I argue.


“First, we were on a raft, not a quest. Second, we didn't know how stupid and bone-headed it was to walk into that. This time, we know exactly how stupid and bone-headed it is to walk into it.”

Hale rolls her eyes, and Echo speaks up. “So... this is totally a set-up, right?”

“What?” I say, turning to face him.

“Well, they promise riches and fame for a mission that is nearly certain to lead to death, don't give us an actual name or any real information about themselves, and all we have to go on is a location way out in the middle of nowhere, and a place to drop it off when we're done. This the single sketchiest thing I've ever seen. And that says a lot.”

“Bahaha! What nonsense!” Galley laughs, slapping his knee. Echo glares harshly at him, but the giant ignores the look. Or just doesn't notice. “Boy, you clearly have no idea how this business is run! People like our new employer here rarely reveal more than they have to. They like the mystery! The intrigue! Feeling like they're actually a part of something!”

“Mostly, he's right.” I say. “Plus, for artifact collectors like them, this is like a game. They all have their rich collector buddies and they like to compete to see who can get the coolest thing. They don't give out too much information so their rivals can't sabotage them or provide too much competition.”

Echo shakes his head. “We're gonna get shot. We're all gonna get shot, and I am blaming you for it.”

“So doubtful.” I mutter, sitting on the edge of the desk and looking over the party. “Guys, this is just what we need. Hale, you wanted to go on real quests and adventures to grow and improve your skills. Galley, you want the biggest, most exciting adventure--”


“--you can find, and have the craziest time going through it. Echo... You're in it for the money or something, I dunno. And I...” I clear my throat, deflecting what I had in mind. They don't need to know I've been unsatisfied with the whole thing, not after the big show I made getting us out of Zid Caina. “Anyways, this is what we've all wanted, it's perfect! So, are we all in?”

The three exchange glances with one another, and finally, with varying levels of enthusiasm, agree.

“It will be the greatest par-tay our party has ever seen!”

“All right, boss. Just don't us killed.”

“This is still a set-up... But, hey, there's gotta be loot in it somewhere. What the heck, I'm in.”

I nod, satisfied. I knew they wouldn't let me down.

Inside the envelope that came with the notice, we find plenty of details and half-made notes that try and further explain our job of retrieving the Wings. There are brief snippets from mythologies and legends regarding the Wings, fragmented thoughts and musing about them, and generally unhelpful stuff. The only thing that really helps are directions to a dungeon on Baorfost, a large island between Fyelma and Aelid. I've heard of the place, even been there a time or two, briefly. It's home to many powerful and wealthy merchants, and some areas are supposed to be more of a resort for the rich and famous more than anything else.

From what I can recall from being there... it's a weird place.

The tricky thing is that, while we can warp there freely, just like moving between continents, there are no Skyways or Mana Roads on Baorfost; transportation across the island is handled with practical means like riding, or even walking. A disgrace, truly.

What that means for us is that instead of facing a quick dungeon raid and an excavation, we'll be undertaking an actual journey. We'll have to explore the island, cross the expanse to find our dungeon, dealing with any terrain, wildlife or other threats the old fashioned way. The thought makes me nostalgic for the early days of adventuring, before I was spoiled by convenience of teleportation.

I lean against the railing on the pier, looking out to the sea, feeling the cool breeze of salty air as it blows to the island. In the distance, I can just barely see the shape of Fyelma, far, far off. Ships moored to the harbor rock in the water nearby, and the sounds of working sailors are carried from the harbor. Behind me is Corron, the capital city of Baorfost, built along and even into the lush, rolling hills of the island.

Baorfost is a fairly large island situated between the two major continents of Prism, and that central location makes it a hotspot for sailors and traders moving across the sea. Situated almost exactly in the middle of the sea between Fyelma and Aelid, practically every major route brings ships here. Most people, if they feel inclined to move between continents, can simply warp between them, but for merchants to move any sort of goods between continents, the only real option is by boat.

I hear the sounds of warping, along with a bit of uncomfortable moaning and groaning. I grin. Warping to a new place can be an unpleasant experience for some adventurers, and it sounds some of my party had a poor trip.

I turn to face the others, smiling broadly. Galley is unaffected by the warp, but Hale and Echo are both hunched over, holding their stomachs, looking ironically seasick after the trip.

“Aah, smell that wonderful sea breeze.” Galley says, placing his hands on his hips and breathing the salty air in deeply. “It's been a long time since I came here. I wonder how much has changed in my absence.” It's almost easy to forget Galley worked as a sailor for who knows how long before joining us. He's probably traveled the land almost as much as I have.

“We may have to wait to find out.” I say, eying the more poorly fairing half of the party. They look almost ready to lurch over the side of the pier and be sick. “Looks like a couple of us haven't caught our sea legs yet.”

I get a couple glares, but no response, so I clear my throat and change the topic. “This is different from our usual jobs in that we'll need to keep a close watch on our supplies and equipment through the journey. No warping back to town if we forget something. And it won't be a walk in the park, either.”

According to all the maps I could pore over, our route doesn't look like a very hospitable one. Only half of Baorfost has been extensively explored and settled. The other half, divided by a steep, nearly impassable mountain range, with steep, harsh cliffs to the water, has been almost entirely untouched, unmapped, and unexplored. And, of course, that's where our quest is taking us.

The dungeon we're seeking is on the wild side of Baorfost, and the only way through the mountain range to get there is a small pass on the far edge of the island. Of course, to get to that mountain pass, we'll have to cut through the Witchwood, which sounds like the absolute best place to be ever.

“All right, what are we waiting for?” Hale asks, ready to get on the road and march into whatever awaits us.

I hold up a hand, “patience, patience.” I say. I look toward Corron, the always active port city. “Let's take a quick look around town. We don't need much, but it'll help to prepare you for what we'll be finding here.” Galley looks to the town, then back to me, and we exchange a sly, knowing smile.

I grab the pack sitting next to me on the pier and sling it over my shoulder. Not the little bag of essentials I usually carry; this is a full backpack ready for a week long expedition into the unknown. The extra weight is easily noticeable, but also somehow nostalgic. I always used to pack like this before teleportation.

Tourists and sailors alike pass by us on our way to the town, some giving polite greetings in passing while others don't spare a glance. Mostly, we go by tough looking, darkly tanned sailors, some sporting intimidating scars. There are also a few more refined people, likely merchants, judging from their fine and gaudily bright clothes. All kinds of people are here on the island; we pass by humans, elves, and even giants, who are particularly envied sailors for their massive strength. Then we pass by a skinny, wrinkly, brown-skinned goblin.

At the sight of the creature, the party leaps into action; Hale lunges forward, putting herself between the goblin and our party, swords drawn, ready to attack. Hale pulls out his wand, glowing slightly as he pours mana into it. Galley and I hang back and watch, smirking.

The goblin jumps slightly at the bared weapons, then rolls his eyes. “Third time this week...” He mutters under his breath, walking past the party without a second glance. “No good tourists, all brawn and no brain. Ought to put a tax on their...” He falls out of earshot, still mumbling, and the others just watch him leave.

Once the goblin is out of sight, they turn to me. “Um, what...” Hale says.

I shrug. “It happens over here.” I say nonchalantly. We continue on our way, passing more goblins, some imps, and finally an ogre by the time we reach the city itself. Hale and Echo are getting more visibly agitated with each passing monster. In the city, they're even more widespread; sentient monsters of all kinds are scattered throughout the city, almost at an even ratio with the more civil races.

“All right, that's it! Somebody tell me what's going on here before I start burning these things!” Echo exclaims, throwing his hands into the air in exasperation.

“Simple history.” Galley replies, grinning. “When man came to Baorfost for the first time, they were simple merchants and sailors, not warriors. They didn't attack the native monsters and drive them back like other settlers would; no, the were far too clever. Instead, the opened trade relations with the monsters, turning bitter enemies into valued allies!”

I nod. “And in time, relations between the people and the local monsters grew stronger, and eventually, they founded the Commonwealth of Baorfost. This island is the only known place in Prism where monsters and other people coexist peacefully.”

Hale scratches her head, sweeping her gaze over the mixed crowd. “So... We don't fight monsters here?” She asks.

“Oh, I'm sure we will,” I say, “but the ones here in the city are all right. Outside, in the wilds, and especially in the uncharted half of the island, we'll have to be cautious, and able to quickly judge friend from foe.”

We don't go deep into the city, mostly just walking along the edge of it. We all stare at passing monsters as they walk by, just like anybody else. Some are even running shops. The thought of seeing them as allies and even peaceful citizens is a bit off, even to me, but the party isn't preparing for a fight anymore, so we seem OK so far.

We come to a wide road leading outside the city, and I double check our map and compass. “This is it.” I say. “We'll have about a day and a half of walking before we reach the Witchwood, and it'll probably take us a full day to get through that and the mountains pass. Once we're on the other side of these mountains, we'll be in uncharted territory, and our only option will be to follow the directions from the notice. Everyone double checked their supplies before we left, right? Nothing missing?”

They answer affirmatively, and I nod, satisfied. The land looks lush and generous enough now, and we could probably forage some food easily enough, but there's little telling what we'll run into once we get to the Witchwood and over the mountains. We don't even need camping gear most of the time, since we teleport to a dungeon, clear it, and teleport back to town as soon as we're done, but that isn't an option now.

“Everybody ready?” I ask, turning to look at the others.

Hale nods solemnly.

Galley pumps a huge fist in the air, “onward to adventure, and par-tays!”

“Ready to get jumped and robbed...” Echo mutters, “just get moving, will you?”

I nod, smiling, and turn to face forward.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:08 am

Fun happy times are waiting for you I'm sure :3
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:11 pm

Day 1 of Camp Nanowrimo. Still on time.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Seventeenth: The Storm, the Witchwood, and the Coven

Our road takes us far from Corron, and all the hustle and bustle of men and monsters alike. After leaving the town, there's shockingly little traffic along the roads, but that's really only to be expected; all the travelers can get whatever they need in the central port city, there's no need to leave.

The salt in the breeze fades somewhat as we move away from the sea, replaced by warm humidity.

“Storm.” Galley says suddenly. I stop and look back at the giant, pointing into the sky toward the ocean. “Coming in fast.”

I follow his finger to the sky, and see long, dark tendrils of storm clouds gathering and twisting together above us. I can almost see the moisture gathering from the water and rising into the air. “It'll be a bad one,” I say, walking quickly forward, “let's find some shelter while we can.”

Storms are frequent and brutal on Baorfost, and this one is no exception. Rain begins to drizzle down just minutes after we sighted the storm clouds, and we hurry off the road to the mountain line. We find a small cubby in the side of one mountain, and pile into it just as the steady drizzle turns into a ferocious downpour.

“Well, I don't know what we were expecting,” Hale says flatly, staring out at the poor weather.

“This. I was expecting exactly this.” Echo says from his small spot, wedged into the far corner of the tiny cave, flipping through his magic tome.

“The weather is a mighty east, unpredictable and untamed. Here in the middle of the ocean, it is especially so.” Galley sticks his head outside to peer through the rain, and pulls it back in, soaked, a few seconds later.

“Weather has always been one the biggest threats to conventional travel,” I say calmly, gathering some dry sticks together and using a quick spell to light them. “We'll just have to wait this out and get moving when it's done.” I settle back against the stone wall, wrapping a blanket around myself and listening to the rain beat against the lip of our shelter.

Just a few minutes later, we hear a heavy thud from outside, like someone dropping a rock into dry dirt. Although, from the force of the sound, it would need to e a very heavy rock. I raise en eyebrow at Galley, nearest the mouth of the cave, and incline my head outward. He nods, and peers out.

“Looks like a guy,” the giant says, “and he's coming this way.”

A moment later, a tall, slender man pokes his head into our cave. “Greetings, friends,” he says cheerfully, “would you mind sharing your shelter with a weary, rain-soaked traveler? I got caught in the storm and saw your fire from above.”

He looks human, mostly. I can't place it, but something seems a little off about his face. On his back is an unmistakeable weapon; a mana rifle as tall as I am, with a bayonet the size of Galley.

“You!” I exclaim, pointing at him, “you're the one who saved us from the black dragon, back on Fyelma!” What was his name? Ken... Kichi... Calico, that was it.

The man squints in confusion for a second, sweeps his gaze over our party, then his face breaks into a broad grin. “Hey, it's you guys! I remember that!” He pulls the rifle from his back and casually slams the bayonet into the ground. The massive blade blocks off a full half of the cave mouth. Calico walks in and huddles down next to the fire, “I see you're still adventuring; that's good. Some people give up after an encounter like that.” He looks up, noticing Echo for the first time. “The little one wasn't there before. Your party is even growing, then. Good.”

Echo hisses like a cat at Cailico, and Hale punches the kid's leg. “Be polite,” the swordswoman whispers, “or I'll throw you back in the rain!” Echo huffs, pulling his tome up over his face to hide from Calico.

The man laughs it off. “Well, I can't be everyone's friend, I suppose.” He says, “so, what quest brings you all out here? Not more dragon hunting, I hope?”

“Nothing so reckless.” I say, nudging a stick with my foot to send it deeper into the fire. “We're looking for an artifact--” after a moment's deliberation, I decide Calico's trustworthy enough; I doubt he'd try and steal a quest from a low caliber party like us. “--The Wings of Fate. Ever heard of them?”

Calico's smile fades, replaced by a deep frown. “Fate's Flight...” He whispers something I don't catch, then his smile returns. “I may have heard a rumor or two. What do you know of it?”

“Not much.” I admit, shrugging. “Our client's a collector, told us we could find the thing here. I was kind of hoping you knew something that could help us search.”

“I'm afraid not.” Calico places his hands over the fire – no, directly in the fire, and steam rises off of them as water evaporates. He shows no sign of discomfort. “Only advice I'm sure you already know: all ancient artifacts are dangerous, even the harmless ones. Especially the harmless ones. Don't assume the Wings are safe judged from their appearances.”

“Psh, yeah, we know.” I say, waving dismissively. Artifacts are dangerous; that's adventuring 101, really. Nobody out there is dumb enough to find a timeless relic of the distant past and just take it at face value. Anything could potentially have world-ending power. Makes one wonder why the people back then didn't do something productive with their spare time, and instead occupied themselves with making trinkets of mass destruction.

We talk over the small fire for the next couple of hours, waiting for the storm to subside. It doesn't, and our party begins to get annoyed at being cooped up.

“This thing took five minutes to build. How long is it going to keep going?” Echo groans after the umpteenth crack of thunder in the past ten minutes.

“Storms on Baorfost can rage for days.” Galley says, munching on some jerky. “The moisture from the ocean sustains the rainfall, and atmospheric pressure from waves of mana can extend a storm to be longer and more powerful than anything you'd find on the mainlands. Some storms have been known to go on for weeks at a time!”

“But I, for one, don't fancy being stuck in this hole until the seasons change.” Calico says, pushing himself to his feet and pulling his mana rifle out of the ground, leaning the massive weapon against his shoulder. He squints up, looking outside the cave. “I didn't want to do this at first, but the island's gotten enough water from the rainfall by now...”

He lowers the rifle, resting the tip of the bayonet on the ground ahead of him. He pulls back the large lever and opens the gun up, and the air shimmers as mana is drawn into the chamber. Looking closely, I can just make out small, glowing lines of concentrated mana flowing into the weapon. He slams the bolt closed, shoulders the rifle, and aims it at the sky. Glowing glyphs appear in the air at the end of the blade; complex patterns spinning lazily. He fires the gun, and a bolt of pure, concentrated mana shoots off into the sky, streaking through the air.

For a moment, nothing happens, but then there's a burst of light that pushes the clouds away above us. Sunlight pours through the hole in the storm, and I'm almost blinded by the sudden brightness.

Calico smiles at the now-clear sky and nods to himself, apparently satisfied with his work. He swings the rifle up and replaces it on his back, then turns to look at us. “Well, that should keep things clear for a while. Good luck in your quest,” he says, holding up a hand in a gesture of farewell, before leaping into the air and flying away, just like he did before.

Our party steps out to the mouth of our little cave and watches him fly away, then we look back to the sky. The stormclouds have had a massive hole punched right in the middle, leaving a clearing over all of Baorfost.

“Did... did that just happen?” Hale asks, stunned.

I nod. “Yyyyep.”

Galley looks at his mana pistols, seeming somewhat dejected. He points one of them toward the sky. “Pew, pew.”

Echo pushes past the three of us, looks into the air, then back at us. “So, are we gonna keep going, or just stand here till the rain comes back?”

The rest of our time on the road passes uneventfully. Over the next day and a half, the gap in the stormclouds doesn't close up, but instead the clouds themselves start to dissipate and spread out. We reason that the storm is probably just running out of energy, and Calico didn't actually kill it with his shot.

We don't meet any other travelers on the road, and it isn't long before we see our next landmark in the distance. A low, long forest, ringed by tall trees with dull, red leaves, while even larger, trees stretch up inside them, dead and barren. The Witchwood.

“Not ominous at all.” Echo says as the forest comes into sight, giving a pointed roll of his eyes.

We stop by the edge of the forest, just outside the tree line. We eye the place suspiciously, wondering what we'll find in there.

“What do you think?” Hale asks after a moment.

“I think...” I say slowly, rubbing my chin thoughtfully. “The red leaves are a bit much. Like someone was trying too hard to be all menacing and evil.”

Slowly, a gnarled face in the bark of one of the trees scrunches up, giving me a dirty look. I scowl right back, and step into the woods.

The first thing we see on entering the forest is a skeleton, human or elf, I can't tell, sprawled out in the dirt. Picked clean of flesh and insides and gnawed at by local wildlife, it makes for a very foreboding welcome.

“Probably just a traveler that lost his way and didn't know what he was getting into.” I say, trying to set the party at ease.

“Nope,” Echo dashes those efforts, calling out attention to a skeletal arm, severed from the rest, still clinging to a rusty sword driven into the ground. Echo presses his foot against the weapon, and the blade snaps, thin blue vapor trails rising up from the severed ends. “That was magic.”

I sigh. An adventurer with a magic weapon would have to have some idea what they were doing, and they were defeated seconds after entering the forest. Or, I think, examining the way the bones are arranged, perhaps he was fleeing.

Ignoring our appropriately morbid warning, we make our way through the forest. It's dark here, as if the trees are sucking all the light in, rather than just blocking it. A thick fog coats the floor of the forest, hiding the knotted, rough footing, along with anything hiding in it. I take a lantern from my pack, light it with magic, and hold it out to try and illuminate the path and dispel the gloom, with only a marginal effect.

I glance back to the party. Hale has a hand on her sword, face hidden beneath her hood, but clearly tense. Galley has his hands joined behind his head, whistling nonchalantly, but his eyes are narrowed, darting back and forth along the path and through the trees. The giant is sharper than we sometimes give him credit for, I remind myself. Echo has a fireball resting in his hand, probably for light, but maybe he's just getting ready to chuck it at anything that moves.

“So... some reason they call it the Witchwood?” the boy asks after a while. “Are there actually witches, or were they just looking for a really creepy name for the place?”

“Witches.” I answer. “As the story goes, the early settlers on Baorfost encountered a coven of witches living in the woods here. They scorned their efforts at peace and civility, and were ultimately driven back, using these woods as their last refuge.”

“And as time went on, the witches worked for revenge,” Galley adds, “many are the stories of men and women waking to find their children taken, their crops withered, or good stolen. Most blame the witches, of course.”

“Think we'll encounter any of them?” Hale asks.

I shrug. “Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I doubt they're the only dangerous thing out here, so be ready for anything.”

“Agh, snake!” Echo cries, “oh, wait, sorry. Just a tree root. Still slithering around, though. Kinda weird. What is this place, enchanted?”

“All forests are enchanted,” I call back, “you can't grow two trees next to each other on Prism without some crazy wizard or wandering demon coming along and casting a spell on them.”

“Yeah, but this place is different.” Galley says, sweeping his gaze over the forest surrounding us. “magical, but not enchanted. Enchanted forests are brighter, more lively.”

“Oh? Then what's this one?” Hale asks spitefully, “just magical, instead of enchanted? Maybe it's a divine forest, or an arcane one?”

Galley shakes his head. “Cursed.”

That shuts us all up for a couple minutes. The normally jovial and carefree Galley saying that with such a heavy expression is the most foreboding thing in this forest.

Before long, we hear something from the woods. I hold up my hand silently to stop, and we all stand perfectly still, straining our ears to make out the sound in more detail. “I think they're voices.” I whisper back.

“Witches?” Hale asks.

I nod, “maybe. Probably.” Who else would be out here? I look back at the others. Galley is a giant and Hale in untrained, but Echo is small and quick, and probably learned to move quietly during his time on the streets. I wave him forward, “kid, come with me. We're going to scout it out.”

Echo grimaces, even sneers, but doesn't argue as he creeps up alongside me quietly. I set down my lantern and he extinguishes his fireball, and we get moving. We advance silently, prodding twigs and dead leaves out of our way so as to avoid stepping on them. It isn't exactly too dark to see in the forest, but the shadow of the dark trees mixed with the heavy fog make it a bit of a challenge to see more than a few feet in front of our faces.

We're getting closer now, and we can definitely hear voices. We can't quite tell what they're saying yet, but given the dark practices that witches are prone to, that may be for the best.

A sudden ringing, clear peal of laughter sounds out, and we stop dead in our tracks. I motion for Echo to stay for a moment but be ready to act, as I move forward. There's a dense ring of trees in front of us, and I creep up to it, staying as low as I can. It sounds like the voices are right on the other side of the tree wall. I slowly move my head up, peeking through a gap in the trees.

There are at least a dozen of them, witches all, it looks like. Dressed in midnight black gowns and robes, some sporting pointy hats. One particular stereotype even has a broom. They're sitting in a wide circle around a fire, the gloom of the forest dispelled around them. A heavy black cauldron sits over the fire, billowing steam.

The witches are all chattering with one another, sounding unexpectedly, perhaps even frighteningly, cheerful. Each of them holds a small book in their hands, which they seem to be discussing vividly. Some kind of dark tome of ancient secrets, perhaps?

And yet... something feels off. It takes me only a moment to realize what; all the witches are young, happy women. That's very odd. Every witch I've met before, to a hag, has been a crooked, wrinkled, occasionally green, bitter old crone, that want nothing but solace and more power. Seeing young, happy witches doesn't feel right.

I wave back for Echo to join me, and in a moment he's beside me, peering through the trees at them. “What do you think?” I ask after a moment.

He shrugs, “look like witches to me. Should we attack, or sneak around?”

“I...” I pause, thinking. They don't look like black-hearted, evil, soulless patrons of the night. They look like... I don't know what. But not witches. “No,” I finally say, “you wait here, I'm going to go in and engage them. If things go south, run and get the others--”

“Paaaaaar-TAY!!!” Galley bursts through the ring of trees, shouting his usual war cry and brandishing his massive sword over his head. The witches squeal in terror and scatter as the giant runs into the middle of their circle, bringing his sword down with a deep clang on the cauldron. The black pot tips and spills its contents onto the forest floor.

“An intruder!” one witch cries.

“Maniac!” shouts another.

Before the giant can make another charge, he's assailed by a swarm of spells of an entirely separate nature than what other mages use. While we bend the elements of nature to out will, witches call on darker, more sinister forces. Galley is hit with a barrage of bolts of pure negativity, dark power, and ill will. They don't scorch him, freeze him or shock him, but he drops to his knees, eyes wide, skin going pale.

“We need to move!” I hiss, standing up and drawing my control bars. As I do, Hale flies into the clearing from the side opposite Galley, swinging her blades in a flurry of steel. The witches scatter before her, and prepare to cast another volley of dark spells at her.

“Wait!” I cry, leaping from cover into the open clearing. “Everyone, stop! We come in peace!” Hale freezes, the witches pause, and they all turn to me. I hold my hands up in a sign of peace, dropping my control rods for good measure. I give Hale a pointed nod, and she thrusts her swords into the ground, shooting me a sour look.

“What is the meaning of this?!” one witch, a fair-haired woman of noble bearing demands, stepping forward. “You will explain yourselves and your intrusion, now!

“You have my apologies.” I say, turning to face the woman, “there was a...misunderstanding in our party. Please believe me, we had no intention of attacking you--”

“No intention?” The woman snaps, outraged. She stalks to the fire, ignoring the unmoving giant, still on his knees, as she looks over the scattered chairs, spilled cauldron, and scattered books. “Look at this! No intention to attack? You've spilled our afternoon tea all over the ground, and all our books are ruined! Do you have any idea how long it will be until another trader comes through to bring us a new novel?”

“Tea? Novels?” I say, looking over them. Looking past the brave acts and spells ready to fire, the witches all look like normal women who had just had their home invaded by a giant warrior. No curses flung, no spirits called, not even a sneer among them. They look like normal, scared women. “Wait, what is this, some kind of book club?”

The tall witch sputters, outraged. “W- how dare- the nerve of you! Coming into our home and insulting us like this! We are the Baorfost Witchwood Coven, and we will not be--”

“Don't deceive yourself, child!” a thin, reedy voice cuts in as an equally thin, reedy woman steps into the clearing. Hunched over, with wrinkled skin, a crooked nose, and a deep frown set into her face. Now this is a witch. A young girl walks a her side, holding her arm, giving her best impression of the condescending sneer her matron now shows. “This hasn't been the Coven for a long time. The child is right; you are nothing but silly girls who use our arts and carry our name,but you are no witches.”

“Sister Agnes!” The woman exclaims, turning to meet the new arrival. “What are you doing here? You ought to be taking your midday nap!”

“I can sleep when I'm dead, Beatrice!” The old hag snaps, ”or on Mondays, always sleepy on Mondays.” She looks to me, “and who are you, child, that would intrude upon our unhallowed ground, uninvited, eh? Speak up! My hearing isn't what it used to be.”

“We've just come looking for passage through the forest.” I explain calmly, “we didn't expect to have any encounters with your coven. We'll lea--”

“My coven!” The crone interrupts, “my coven hasn't been here for thirty years, not since all my sisters were still here. This is my babysitting job, child, not my coven! Don't disrespect the old days of the Witchwood Coven!”

“Sister Agnes, please, calm down. You're getting too excited again.” The younger witch, Beatrice, says.

“And you,” Agnes says, turning her squinty-eyed gaze back to Beatrice, “will you release that neanderthal from your curse yet? His frothing and gargling is irritating!”

The woman frowns, but waves her had over the giant. “As you wish.” She says. Suddenly, Galley's color returns, he takes in a heaving gasp of air, and falls forward onto his face.

“Much better.” Agnes says, and the little girl beside her nods. “Now, you want passage through the forest? Well we won't give it to ya! You want to go through, you need to earn it!”

I narrow my eyes. “I wasn't aware we needed your permission.” I say.

The old crone cackles, and the other witches smirk. “Permission? Ha! You don't need out permission to pass through. Go right ahead, wander through the other side! Just know, these are magical woods, and those who don't know the path are doomed to wander forever, searching for a way out.”

Drat. “And you know the way through, I assume?”

“Of course!”

“And you won't tell us unless we help you.”

“Now you're getting it, little child!”

I sigh inwardly. It's always the same, isn't it? It can never be simple. “All right, fine. What do you want done?”

The old witch smiles, chuckles, and begins cackling. Her howling laughter quickly devolves into a racking cough, and the little girl with her runs off to get a drink. With her elder incapacitated, Beatrice steps forward to speak. “There is a sect of druids on the other side of the forest. They come to us frequently, crying in anger for some blasphemy or another they claim we've committed that week. We wold have them silenced, so that we may be in peace. Do this for us, and we will take you safely through the Witchwood.”

“More druids, great.” Hale remarks dryly, no doubt remembering our last encounter with one of the priests of nature.

“I support the idea of torching druids!” comes a cry from outside the tree ring. Echo, who still hasn't shown himself.

I roll my eyes. “Fine,” I say, “if it will get you to take us through the Witchwood, we'll see what can be done about these druids of yours."
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 1:16 pm

I made it! I made it, y'all! I sat down to work on Camp Nano, saw the calendar, and went "oh shoot, it's Friday." And then I made this. It was gonna be close, but I'm still on time, you lot!
And to whom it may concern, I'll get started on other posting here on the site ASAP.

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Eighteenth: The Druid, the Meeting, and the Next Step

We leave the witches after they give us some brief directions to get to the druids' grove. They assure us it's impossible to miss, which somehow leaves me less than reassured. I've heard that a number of times before, and it usually leads to me wandering in circles for hours trying to find the “unmissable” landmark.

Once we get back into the forest proper, it's exactly the same as before; dark, foggy, a few spooky noises here and there; an all around sinister atmosphere.

“So, what do you think?” Hale asks once we're back on our way.

“About what?” I ask.

“The witches, the druids, any of it,” Hale says. “What are you planning to do ith the druids once we get to them?”

“Talk to them, listen to their side of the story,” I say. “I'm not about to go around evicting forest dwellers from their homes without a good reason. If we can find some kind of compromise that lets the witches and druids co-exist, and still gets us on our way, that would be best for everyone.”

As it turns out, the witches weren't entirely untruthful about the grove being unmissable. A small patch of clear air, tall grass, and green trees all under the canopy of the larger, darker trees. We enter it cautiously, weapons sheathed, trying to look like as little of a threat as we can.

“Ho! Who goes there?” A cry of alarm comes from behind a tree, and we all look to see a rather unwashed man, with long, unkempt hair and beard and once-white robes that were well past soiled. The sickle in his hand is raised wardingly; they must not get a lot of visitors here.

“Easy, druid,” I say, holding my empty hands up in a gesture of peace, motioning for the rest of the party to do the same. “We're here in peace. We want to talk to your leader.”

“Oh?” the druid peers at us closely, squinting his eyes, stroking his beard thoughtfully with his free hand. Finally, he shrugs. “Eh, all right,” he says, tossing his sickle point-first into the ground. He cups a hand over his mouth, “it's all right, everybody! They're friendly!”

At his call, a number of other druids come out of hiding from behind trees of their own. Men, women, children, all kinds and all ages, they all take tools to the ground, caring for the land and the plants. A few sing at the trees.

“What, just like that?” I ask, surprised at their apparent quickness to trust.

The druid shrugs, “Eh, you'll try and fight us, or you won't. We don't have anything worth taking so we never learned to fight to defend anything. Don't make a lick of difference to us if we're expecting an attack or not.” I nod slightly, conceding the point. “And look now, you wanted our leader, here he comes.” The druid adds.

A giant comes out from the grove and approaches us. His hair, like the rest, is dirty and messy, unkempt, although he has no beard. Instead his chin and a large patch on the side of his face are wood. Probably from some druidic ritual gone wrong, I reason, best not to ask about it.

“Sweet merciful goddess, what is wrong with your face?!” Echo cries as he sees the deformed mark on the giant's face.

The giant eyes Echo critically for a moment, and almost seems to be pondering how much trouble it would be to squash the urchin, a question the rest of our party has contemplated on at least one occasion. “Bad day with a dryad.” He finally answers in a deep, rumbling voice, then looks to me, his gaze equally harsh. I realize I'm not very much taller than Echo, and in the giant's eyes, probably the same trouble to squash. “Who are you, and what is your business with our enclave?”

“We're adventurers, travelers trying to pass through the Witchwood,” I explain. “We've already found the Witches coven here, and in return for showing us a way through the forest, they've requested that we come to you and find a way to stop you from harassing them.”

The giant spits off to the side, and splinters fly from his mouth. “So, you work for the witches,” He says. “The wasteful, ungrateful, spitefully arrogant women of that 'coven' have no place in these woods. We will not cease our protestation.”

I sigh, putting a hand to my head, already feeling a headache coming on. Why does it always have to go like this? “All right... could you at least explain what it is you're protesting?” I ask.

The giant grunts, crossing his arms, “you have been there, and not seen? Typical of an outsider,” he says. “Tell me, elf, when you were in the witch's clearing, what did you see?”

“Um...” I think back to the scene. “Well, they were sitting around a fire, with some kind of tea in their cauldron, discussing a book of theirs. That's about it.”

“That is all there is, and it is more than should be permitted.” The giant rumbles. “A fire, a great, roaring blaze that never ceases, and they feed the flesh of the forest to it daily to keep it burning. Their drink, a 'tea,' they call it, made from boiling all the most sacred herbs and plants of the Witchwood, and then consuming them. And their books! Have you any idea how many trees are cut down to provide paper to feed their voracious reading habits? Far too many, I assure you.”

“So, you're mad at the witches...” I say slowly, “because they... hurt the environment?”

“They deplete our natural resources on their frivolous activities!” the giant growls. “Prism only has a limited amount of resources it can give. The trees, wood, plants, these witches throw them aside wastefully for their own satisfaction. As nature's own guardians, we can not abide this irreverence!”

“But... but it grows back!” Echo cries from behind me, “wood, plants, all of it! It all grows back! It's made to be used, there would be too much of it if we didn't use it like the witches!”

“Nonsense,” the giant rumbles. “You know not what you speak, child. The ignorant wastefulness of the witches is an unacceptable act which must be stopped. Or punished.”

I hold my arm out, keeping Echo back. He's as fed up as I am, and a quick glance back shows that Hale feels much the same way. Galley is playing with a bird. “All right, look...” I look up at the giant, massaging my temples to keep the stress-induced headache back. “Is there some way we can get you and the witches together, to have an actual talk about this? Maybe we can help sort things out.”

The giant growls deep in his throat, and I can't tell if it's a sign of thoughtfulness or hostility. Finally, he nods once, sharply. “Return to the witches. Tell their leader that I will meet with the at the ancient spot. They will know the place. We will await them until sundown, and no later.”

“We'll let them know,” I say, turning to leave and waving for the others to do the same.

“Wait!” The giant barks, and I nearly jump at the thunderous command. “We need insurance that you will not conspire with the witches against us. You will leave one of your members here, as insurance.”

I turn back to the giant, crossing my arms and meeting his gaze sharply. “Oh, will we? I'm not sure that's a beneficial idea for us.” I say.

“It is the only way to ensure that you mean only peace to us.” The giant says, “if you do not trust us enough to leave one of your party here, then we can not trust you enough to meet with the witches. If you do not intend to bring conflict to us, then there should be nothing to fear.”

I glare harshly at the giant. An unreasonable demand, for sure, but he seems adamant. “And what if you intend to start trouble?” I ask.

The giant turns his chin up, “you know my kind better than that, elf. We druids are peaceful; we will not instigate an incident, but we will defend ourselves if the need arises. You can trust us to show good care to one of your people.”

He has a point there, but it doesn't mean I like the idea of leaving anyone from the party here; too much could go wrong. “And who, of druid, should I entrust to you?”

“Your giant,” The druid answered, nodding at Galley. “I would speak with my brother; it has been long since I saw the peaks of our home mountains, and I long for news of the old territories.”

I glance back at Galley, who grins and nods enthusiastically. “I would be glad to bring tiding of home to a long-gone sharer of the giant blood.” He says.

I sigh, shrugging. “Fine, Galley stays with you.” I say. Our giant walks out to meet the druid, and the two share a handshake that would put an iron vise to shame.

“He will be well cared for, you have my word,” the druid says, “now go, meet with the witches. Bring them to the meeting place, and we will discuss things there.”

We turn and go our separate ways, the pair of giants going into the grove as I lead Hale and Echo away, back into the woods.

“Is this going as well as you'd hoped?” Hale asks.

“Right now, it's probably better than I could have asked for,” I say. “But it's probably only going to get worse from here.”

Echo snorts, “I'm just happy not to have that walking disturbance of the peace clomping around behind me.”

“So, you actually convinced Skaem Cedar-Jaw to meet with us,” the witch Beatrice says, leaning her chair back onto its hind legs. It's her, the old crone Agnes, the little girl that follows her, and our party sitting around the Coven's fire now, the rest of the witches are off somewhere in the woods.

“He said he'll wait until sundown, but then he's leaving,” I say, picking over the... stew, that the witches gave us on returning. They said it was only fair for them to feed us at least, since we were trekking across the Witchwood for them. Looking at the strange green sludge, I'm not sure it was much of a kind gesture. I set the bowl down by the fire, deciding to just eat from our rations later. “He'll meet at the ancient spot, and said you'd know where that is.”

The two older witches exchange a look, and their junior member looks back and forth between them. Finally, Beatrice turns back to me and nods, “we do,” she says. “There's an ancient monolith in the heart of the Witchwood, this is where Skaem intends to meet with us.”

“And you'll go?” I ask, barely daring to get my hopes up.

Beatrice snorts, but Agnes clears her throat before the woman gets a chance to speak. “We'll meet with Skaem,” the elderly witch says, “we have dealing with the druids that predate this age. Perhaps if we can call old alliances to his memory, new disagreements will not trouble him so. Corn! Have you finished eating yet?”

The small girl starts at the old witch addressing her suddenly, but with a few more spoonfuls she gulps down the rest of her stew and swallows, with a bit of an effort. “Yes, sister Agnes!” she reports, rising to her feet.

“Good, then help me to my feet, girl. We must waste no time. We shall depart immediately to meet with Skaem and his druids.” With some help, the old witch rises to her feet, settling onto her cane, ready to go.

“Sister Agnes, don't tell me you intend to go with us?” Beatrice exclaims, standing up beside the crone. “It's nearly time for your evening nap, and the Witchwood is no place for someone of your age!”

Agnes waves the woman off irritably, “leave me be, child! Skaem wishes a meeting with the Witches of our Coven, and even if the Coven is no more, I'm the last true witch remaining in these woods.”

“And Cornelia? You'll drag her off into the woods with you?” Beatrice says, planting her hands on her hips, “it's almost the girl's bedtime, as well. And the woods are no place for a child!”

“I'm not afraid, sister Beatrice. I am a witch!” The girl mirrors the pose, feet wide, hands on her hips, nose turned up in the air. She lacks the authority of her elder, but at least she's got conviction.

Agnes smirks, “perhaps you could learn a thing or two from the girl, child,” she tells Beatrice, then turn to us. “And you lot! Ready to go, are you? We have little time to lose.”

I look back at Hale and Echo, who nod, although Echo adds in an eye roll. I feel the sentiment. “We are.” I tell the witch. We need to go and get Galley back, if nothing else.

“Good, then let's be off! We'll make it well before sundown, but Skaem Cedar-Jaw is not a giant to keep waiting.”

Skaem, as predicted, is already at the monolith when we arrive. The giant is leaning against the pointed stone structure, which was likely erected as a memorial to some event long passed, but is now overgrow with vines and ivy, and stained with dirt.

The giant didn't come alone; Galley is at the other giant's side, talking animatedly to him. Also with him is the sickle-wielding druid that greeted us earlier, sitting on a bush off to the side, and a tall stag with the biggest set of antlers I've ever seen. The animal rises to its feet as we approach, looking like a baby next to the giant druid, and stares with intelligent eyes.

Skaem hold up a hand and silences Galley as he turns to us, giving a sharp look to the witches that lead the way. The other druid rises from his bush, standing respectfully.

Agnes, helped by Cornelia, the small girl, goes to meet him. Beatrice keeps up beside the pair. “Skaem Cedar-Jaw,” the old crone says, looking the giant over, “you've not aged poorly, it would seem.”

“The same could not be said for you, Agnes to Hag of Witchwood,” the giant replies. “How long since our last meeting? Thirty years, or more?”

“Bah, I stopped keeping track of such petty things as time long ago,” Agnes says with a wave, “my sisters never cared for the passage of time, why should I? A pointless endeavor.”

“Your sisters, at least, were not to wantonly destructive as this new generation of witches,” the giant nods at Beatrice, “who hew down gifts of nature for their own entertainment.”

“Ah, and straight to the point,” Beatrice smirks, crossing her arms. “Perhaps you would care to explain what right you have to call us irreverent heretics, druid, and why you think yourself above the universal laws of common decency, or good neighboring etiquette?”

“I act on the laws, and even duties, given to me by nature itself!” Skaem growls. “But I suppose that is not a concept you witches with your dark and unnatural ways are familiar with, is it? Shall I explain to you the concept of nature first, or do you already demand what you destroy, and continue to do so, heedless of our warnings?”

“Do not patronize me, you flea-bitten, unwashed ape!” Beatrice shoots back before launching into a tirade of her own. It seems they'll be going at it for a while, and I have no interest in listening to it.

I walk around the arguing inhabitants of the Witchwood to rejoin Galley. “All was well at the grove, I trust?” I say.

“But of course!” The giant answers, “Skaem showed nothing but true giantly hospitality and kinship! We shared in many stories of the home peaks while we waited here for you.”

I nod in approval, then turn back to the arguing trio. Poor Cornelia is just looking back and forth, wide-eyed. “How long do you think they'll be going at it like this?” I ask.

“There's no telling,” Galley says, “there seems to be a good deal of bad blood between them as is, and their motivations and beliefs clash on so central a point there may be no reconciling.”

I grunt, then smirk slightly. “We only brought a week of food, do you think our supplies will outlast the argument?”

The giant barks out a laugh, “I almost doubt it.”

I don't know how long Skaem and the witches argue for. We all settled down and broke out dice and cards, instruments, or spell tomes to study long before the argument finished.

Finally, it was Skaem who had had enough. The giant threw up his hands, clenched into fists, shouting, “if you will continue to show such irreverence and spite to the nature which sustains you, then I will have no more dealing with you! I leave you to your destructive ways, so that you can see the fruits you grow!”

As the giant stalks away, I walk up to the witches. Beatrice has her arms crossed and has her nose turned up at the giant, while Agnes is sighing and rubbing her head. “Sounds like it didn't go well.” I say.

“It went exactly as I said it would,” says Beatrice.

“But still rather poorly,” Agnes adds.

“Well, with that concluded, we do need to get on our way. Would you kindly show us the way to the other side of the Witchwood, as we agreed?” I ask.

Beatrice sneers, “as we agreed? As I recall it, we agreed to show you the way through if you purged these druids from us. It does not seem like that has happened. Come, we'll supply you with torches and pitchforks; we have a few saved from angry mobs that have come for us, you can use them to drive the druids out.”

I sigh exasperatedly, “seriously? No! We're not driving anyone out of their homes. We're adventurers, not hired thugs!”

The witch shrugs, “I've always known the two to be synonymous.” I resist the urge to slap her. Barely. “Isn't there something else we can do to get you to help us?”

“Nothing plagues us in these woods of ours, but for poor neighbors,” Beatrice says.

“Poor neighbors, yes,” Agnes agrees. “The druids, and...” The witches exchange a glance, clearly thinking about something else.

“And?” I urge, raising an eyebrow.

“Hmph. Boy, go and bring Skaem back here. We have more to discuss with him,” Agnes commands with a wave. Rolling my eyes, I turn and jog after the giant.

Skaem looks back as he hears me approaching. “There is nothing more to discuss, elf. Go back to those witches you are so fond of, I will not tolerate their trickery any further.”

“They say they have something else to talk about,” I say. “Sounds like something important. It must involve you somehow.”

Skaem looks back at the witches, and his glare turns into a grim frown. “I will speak with them,” he says, walking past me and going back to the trio. I trot along behind, and by this point, the rest of the party is gathering together around us.

“There is another beast prowling this forest, Skaem. One that does not belong.” Agnes says, and the giant nods.

“I am aware of his presence,” he says. “We have had encounters with him already, and seen the effects of his presence.”

“Then we need not explain to you the severity of what his presence here entails,” says Beatrice. “We have also seen him, and some of our sisters claim to have encountered him, and only escaped by a slim margin.”

“It seems, at last, we are in agreement over something,” Skaem says. “How would you go about executing a plan to put a stop to this beast?”

“Isn't it obvious?” Agnes asks, and the old witch shakes her staff at us, “we have a perfectly capable party of adventurers here that seek passage through the Witchwood. We'll send them out, and they can take care of the task for us.”

Skaem nods, “very well. They can leave immediately.”

“Can someone tell us what we're doing?” I interject, “we're not from here, we don't know your problem. Explain it to us and we'll think about your little task.”

Skaem and the witches exchange a look, and Agnes nods. “There is a madman in these woods,” the old witch says, “no one knows who the man is, or where he hails from. But he is a very real threat, more than anything else left in the Witchwood by now. He is savage, powerful, and vicious. Since he arrived, he has been attacking wanderers and travelers, and now he threatens our own people.”

“So, you have a murderer living in your woods?” I ask, “and you want us to get rid of him?” I said we wouldn't drive anyone out of their homes, true, but a murderous madman? We could deal with that.

“A murderer, and more,” Beatrice says. “Have you seen the bones here? Of men, elves and giants, strewn about, picked clean?”

I think back to the skeleton we found at the entrance to the Witchwood, the poor adventurer who had been slain mid-flight. His bones had been picked clean and gnawed as if by a wild animal. He was the first we saw, but there were many other skeletons in a similar state scattered around the Witchwood. I gulp, suddenly not liking where seems to be going, and nod.

“As you are well aware, then, he is a danger to all who come near, and must be dealt with.” Skaem says, “do this, and we will show you the way through the Witchwood, to the uncharted region of the island.”

I share looks with the party, and one by one, they all nod. We can handle one crazed murderer, and they're all well aware of it. “We'll take care of it.” I say, turning to leave, waving the rest of the party to accompany me.

“Wait,” Skaem calls. “Galley stays. I do not yet trust you enough to loose you into the woods without insurance you will not turn on us. Adventurers are a fickle sort.”

“If he gets a hostage, so do we!” Agnes cries, “leave another member of your party with us! Otherwise, he may convince you to turn against us! It's only fair, yes?”

I groan, placing a hand on my forehead. “You want us to split our party in half before we go to hunt your madman?” I ask.

“You'll still have him outnumbered,” Agnes points out. “Come now, as a sign of goodwill.”

I grit my teeth. Why, oh why, by the goddess, does everyone we come across have to be such an insufferable, irredeemable--

“Eh, I'll stick around, why not?” Echo says, stepping back to stand by the witches. “These guys seem all right, I wouldn't mind hanging out for a while. Beats tramping around in the woods, waiting to get eaten.”

I turn and glare at the urchin, but he pointedly ignores it. I scan the faces of the assembly; the witches look satisfied, Skaem's face is hard and flat as the stone monolith, Galley is absently looking at the canopy of trees, and Hale is glaring at her brother.

Finally, I let out another deep, pained groan. “Fine, fine. Echo stays with the witches. Galley, go back with Skaem. Hale and I will take care of this on our own.” Our giant goes to join his kinsman, and Hale and I stand alone, facing them.

“Well, this is going much better than I had anticipated.” Hale whispers.

“Silence.” I hiss back. “We'll take care of your murdering madman, and when we return we expect to be given what we deserve. No more tricks, no hoops to leap through, no more tasks.” Skaem and all the witches nod in agreement, and I roll my eyes, knowing they'll try to mess us up somehow.

Hale and I turn away, walking back into the woods as the faction leaders, with their collateral, turn to go back to their respective dens and lairs. “Just like the good ol' days when it was just me and you, huh boss?” Hale says, and I snort.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:50 pm

Just like the good old days XD
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:46 am

I kid you not, I wrote this one like, a month ago, and forgot I had it saved up. Good thing, too, otherwise I would've missed this week by a long shot. Hahaha, no such luck, you're stuck with another one this week!

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter Negative, the Fourth: The City, the Prophesy, and the First Quest

Late the next day, we finally broke free from the thick woods and into the clear, open road. From here on out, the road that had been just dirt turned into paved cobblestone, with lanterns hanging on poles along the sides of the road. To our left, the massive city wall of Varen rose up into the sky. It was probably the biggest, most awe-inspiring thing I had seen in my life, and I had to crane my neck just to see the top of it.

“Whoa...” I whispered in awe, just staring at the huge, whitewashed stone wall.

After a moment, Noel tapped my shoulder. “C'mon. Let's hurry, before they close up for the night.”

I nodded, having just a bit of difficulty pulling myself away from the sight. It was just so... big! Even Castle Feylake looked like child's toy in comparison to this, and this wall wrapped around the entire city. Still, I managed to follow along behind Noel as she strode, confident as ever, down the paved pathway to the gate.

The gate itself was a large wooden set of double doors set in an arch built into the wall. Torches burned on either side of the archway, and a pair of guards, each in shining armor with swords at their hips and emblazoned shields, stood at the sides. “Who goes there?” One of the men called as we approached the gate.

“I am Noel, and this is my dear friend, Bod.” Noel said, putting a hand to her chest first, then gesturing to me. “We've come through the forests from the small town of Feylake, to the south, seeking entrance to the great and mighty Varen city.” She smiled politely as she spoke, looking completely at ease. I couldn't help but feel intimidated before such impressive soldiers; they were nothing like the militia guardsmen back home.

One of the men grunted. “Feylake, huh? I've got an aunt over there. What news from the town?”

“All is calm and well.” Noel answered, “The crops are good, the livestock are healthy, and the goblins rarely stir these days.”

The man nodded, “Good to hear. Say, where are your parents at? The forest is no area for kids.”

“We came alone, sir. Just my friend and I.”

“Huh, indeed?” The guards exchanged glances, and the quiet one shrugged. “Well, go on, then. Just keep out of trouble.” He raised a fist and pounded on the gate. “Open up! Travelers comin' in.” He hollered.

In just a moment, one of the large doors creaked open, moving inward to the city. Noel waved to the guards as she passed by them, with me following close behind her.

Inside, Varen was huge. Buildings bigger than any I'd seen before except Castle Feylake itself stretched out before us, most of them made from the same pristine, white stone the outer wall was constructed of. The buildings that were wood were very fine, sanded smooth, much better than the rough, knotted wooden structures back home. And windows! Every single building had windows peering out of it, letting out lamplight and sound. In Feylake, glass was a commodity, and most windows were just holes cut into the wood that got covered with curtains to keep weather out.

People rushed busily in all directions, each one with a look of purpose on their face. Life seemed to move so much faster here than in a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere. They varied from important-looking people in fine silks and furs, to lowly, dirty beggars in torn clothing.

“It's so... so...” I tried to voice my impression of the city, but couldn't find the right words.

“Big? Busy? Awesome?” Noel offered.

“Much.” I finally said.

Noel smiled, then grabbed my hand, pulling me through the crowd. “Come on, let's go look around!”

We shuffled and scooted through the crowd, making slow headway through the bustling city streets. There were more people in the crowd around us than lived in all of Feylake.

We finally resorted to ducking under, squeezing through, and slipping past people to make our way around, since nobody wanted to move for us like they did the other important people. Eventually, we burst out into a mostly open area, still with people running around, but with more space to move in.

It was a wide, open plaza of cobblestone, with a large fountain dug into the middle. Four roads of cobblestone ran through the fountain, allowing people to walk over the water, surrounded by tall statues that spouted water. The plaza was ringed with merchants trying to sell their wares, most of them had stalls at the edge of the plaza and shouted over one another to get the attention of whoever was nearest.

What held my gaze, though, was the two towering walls at the far end of the plaza, past the fountain. On either side of a stone walkway, two massive walls of polished white marble rose, taller than even the city walls, with tapestries and ornate gold rope hanging from them.

I was struck speechless by the sight, but Noel just looked amused. “You have got to stop being so impressed by walls.” She said. “This way, let's look in there!” She grabbed my hand and pulled me away, and my feet numbly moved along with her as I continued staring at the huge walls. How had people even built those? Between them, I could catch a glance of a massive building, a palace, like Castle Feylake, but... not like the old castle at all.

A sign drifted into my field of view, blocking my vision of the monumental walls and replacing it with... an eye. There was an eye bigger than my head painted on the signpost. I frowned at it, and as I watched, it blinked, and shifted to stare at me. My own eyes grew to almost that size as Noel pulled me into the tent the sign was outside of.

It was dark in here, but colorful. The tent was made of strips of all kinds ofbright fabric. It looked like someone had built a tent out of a rainbow. A strong, almost overwhelming scent of burning incense hit me, and I nearly gagged.

An old woman sat in clothes even brighter than the tent, with her hair pulled into odd patterns. She had dark eyes, painted completely black, and a long hooked nose. Between us was a table with burning candles, providing the only dim light the tent had, and a crystal ball set on a small pedestal.

I frowned, looking back behind us. It was the middle of the day outside, and the sun was shining brightly, but in here it felt like it was nighttime. There was barely any light coming in, and the candles were the only thing really illuminating the tent. I turned back to the woman, “You're not a witch, are you?”

The woman cackled, a high, cracking sound that wasn't unlike a bird crying as it fell from the sky. “A witch! Oh, you silly, silly boy, of course not! I am a gypsy!”

“Oh.” I hadn't heard the word before, but at least she wasn't a witch.

“Come, come, little children. Have a seat.” The woman beckoned to the two stools standing by the table, and Noel and I reluctantly lowered ourselves into them. “Good, good children. Now, for a copper chip or the eye of an insect, I shall peer into my crystal ball, and behold your futures!”

Noel and I exchange a glance. Was this lady crazy? Some of the people in Feylake called us crazy after we had been in the woods a few months, but Noel said they were the crazy ones. They didn't seem very crazy, but this lady really did. “Um... we have money?” Noel said, uncertainly.

“Yes, yes, that's what I just asked for, isn't it?” the gypsy woman said, holding out a hand. “The secrets of your days to come, for only a single gil, or even a dollar!”

“Uh...” Noel fished a coin out of the small pouch she carried. “How aboout gold?”

“Ah! Yes, yes, of course. One of those, then.” the woman took the coin and tucked it into her sleeve. “You'll have to excuse me, I've been many places, and seen much money. It's hard to remember it all sometimes. Now behold, girl, as I show you the great secrets held by you--”

“Ah, hold on a second!” Noel hastily interrupted, leaning forward on the table. “Um, not mine, please We want to see you tell his future.” she nodded toward me.

The woman frowned, then shrugged. “Very well. Then we shall see the boy's future instead.”

Noel and I exchanged another look as the woman cleared her throat. “Why don't you go first?” I whispered.

Noel shrugged, “You're the hero, I'm just tagging along. That was the deal, remember?.”

We looked back as the old woman placed her hands on the crystal ball. “Now watch, children, as I call upon arcane powers beyond the comprehension of mortal men, and peer into the void of time itself!” The little light that was in the tent seemed to be sucked into the crystal ball, which began to glow softly. Gradually, images formed in the ball.

First, it showed a single little circle, something like gears set in it spun slowly, surrounded by a vast, endless expanse of white. Next, it showed Feylake, or what looked like it. The castle was under construction, and there were only tents around, instead of the village we knew. Then, the perspective shifted, like a bird flying, it went over the roads, through the forests, to Varen itself. The giant city looked much the same as the view passed over it, coming again to show forests on the other side of the city.

The vision in the ball dove into the woods, darting between trees and through bramble, finally coming to rest on a view of an ancient-looking circle of stones, with pillars stretching up from the ground. Men in black robes stood there around it, and in the circle, a man in shining armor was locked in a duel with a terrible demon. The man held an ornate sword, looking like something straight out of the legends of ancient heroes. It had a wide, white blade and was as long as the man's arm, with a gold handguard spreading and twisting over the base of the blade. The man swung his sword, and the demon disappeared in a flash of light. The robed men began chanting, then they, too, disappeared.

The vision changed abruptly, flashing to show three keys in rapid succession, then it changed to a series of images, each one flashing only briefly, barely giving enough time to register them. A wooden X, a red-haired woman, a spear-like weapon with a giant blade, a little girl whose right eye glowed menacingly, and a pair of black wings stretching into a white sky.

Then, the face of the demon filled the vision, and the crystal ball cracked, going blank. I jumped at the sudden noise, and light came flooding back into the room, even brighter than before.

The gypsy woman was frowning, and crossed her arms, staring at the broken crystal ball. “Hm. Well, that is most curious. That almost never happens.” she said, suddenly sounding a lot less mysterious and a lot more disappointed.

“W-what... what was all that?” I ask, feeling shaken up, and maybe a bit sick.

The gypsy shrugs, “Don't ask me, child. It's your future.”

“But, but, that was the past, wasn't it?! Feylake wasn't even there, and what about that demon? They don't roam around out here anymore!”

“The crystal ball works in strange ways, child,” the gypsy said, “perhaps it was merely showing you the past of your future. If it only showed you the moments of your future, with no prior context, it wouldn't make any sense.”

“It doesn't make sense, though!” I cry, throwing my hands in the air. “What about those keys? And that woman? And who was that demon, and the guy fighting him, with the weird sword? Nobody knows!”

“Don't be silly, boy. 'Nobody knows,' the youth of today!” The gypsy gave me a pointed look, then turned her hooked nose up before continuing. “The demon you saw was an ancient being named Dunuhn. The man was Ser Wallace Prethroe, and his sword was named Sunray. That was their duel, two hundred years ago, when the hero, Ser Wallace, sealed away the terrible Dunuhn at his own summoning.”

“So... what does that have to do with me?”

“Bod, isn't it obvious?” I looked to Noel, puzzled. She seemed to have it all figured out already. “Dunuhn is coming back, and you're going to fight him, like a real hero! It'll be amazing!”


“Hm... That's possible, yes.” The gypsy woman considered it for a moment, then nodded. “When Dunuhn was seal away, they locked up Sunray so it would be undisturbed until it was needed next. The keys you saw in the vision are likely to free the blade and bring it to bear against the demon's return.”

I was silent, stunned. It felt like I had just had the wind knocked out of me. An ancient demon was being resurrected, and I was supposed to fight it? Was this really happening?

“Bod?” Noel leaned down, looking up at my face. “Hellooo? Anybody home?”

The gypsy sighed. “The poor boy. He's probably gone into shock. These things tend to happen when someone is told they're fated to--”

I slapped my palms down on the table, interrupting the old woman. “Yeah! I'm gonna go slay a demon! Just you watch me!” I bolted up from my stool and ran out the tent into the open plaza ahead.

A demon! A real demon was trying to invade Varen, and I had to stop it! This would be amazing, like a real story out of a legend! This was my chance to take my place with the greatest heroes in the world!

I slunk back moments later, hanging my head sheepishly. “Um... where's the sword?”

The gypsy woman sighed, and began scribbling on a piece of paper.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:57 pm

lol ahhhh children.
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:27 pm

Hey, it's Friday again! And true to form, I procrastinated all week and typed today's chapter up this afternoon. Yay! And I'm about to leave for the weekend, so I don't really have time to proof it. Eh, whatever. Enjoy!

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Nineteenth: The Madman, the Hunt, and the Save

The forest is dark and foreboding as we pass through it, even more so with only the two of us instead of our group of four. The fog that was heavy on the ground before now seems impenetrable, and what little animal life we had seen before is all gone now. We're alone, in the cursed woods, and only now does it dawn on me how bad of an idea this was.

I glance at Hale, hiking through the heavy shrubbery beside me. Her hood blocks out the thin light that reaches us and obscured her face, but she carries herself strongly; back straight, head high, one sword drawn while her free hand rests on her other. She doesn't seem to be too affected by the situation, at least.

For a long while, the only sound is of our footsteps, which sound like hammers hitting wood in the otherwise total silence of the forest. Finally, I try to strike up a conversation. “You know, we really should keep a checklist of adventuring sites we've been to.” True to form, Hale doesn't reply, but I continued on anyway; the silence is too deafening for me. “You know, all the different types of places we've been. Lets see... we've done caves, mines, desert ruins, desert wastes, jungle, frozen forest, and now a cursed forest. We've seen a lot these past few months.”

Hale remains quiet, and the “conversation” fizzles out from there. Back to the silence of the walk. We trek through the dark, intimidating forest for what feels like hours, and probably is, passing by mangled. gnarled trees, gray pools of water, and an occasional empty clearing. The more we pay attention, the more we notice signs of life here; tracks worn through the damp soil, deep gouges on the trees, at one point we find a knife driven straight into the path we're following. And the deeper we go into the forest, the more frequently we find old, gnawed skeletons.

“He'll try to ambush us, is my bet,” I say as we pass another skeleton, this one wearing mage robes and holding a broken staff. “Take us by surprise, bring us down before we even know he's there. Be alert.”

“What's the plan if it comes to a straight fight?” Hale finally speaks up, “me and your puppet smash him, business as usual?”

“That's probably the easiest way,” I nod. If it came to it, I could switch to cover almost any role in combat, but it would be simplest if Hale and my marionette could just overwhelm the opponent. It's worked in the past. Usually.

“Where do you think he'll attack from? Trees? Or maybe jump out from the bush...” Hale trials off, and our steady walk comes to a stop. There's someone standing in the path ahead of us, watching us. He has torn clothes, long, disheveled hair, and seems to be twitching a bit.

Hale and I exchange a brief look, then I step forward, grasping at my control bars readily. “Hello?” I call to the guy, who doesn't respond, merely stands there. “We're out here looking for... someone. Who are you?”

There's a long pause, then the guy steps forward, slowly, like a zombie. He takes a few steps closer, leaning forward and almost lurching, then he drops down to all fours and charges us like a wild beast.

“Watch out!” I cry, stepping back as Hale moves forward, drawing her second sword. I summon my marionette, connecting mana strings to it, and the puppet rises just as the man reaches us.

The madman springs up, reaching for Hale with crooked, clawlike fingers, and for just an instant before he makes contact I can see the dried blood caking his face and torso. Hale raises her swords in a cross to block him, and before he hits the blades, the man smacks the flat sides of the swords and pushes himself away in midair.

He's good, for a lunatic, I think, sending my marionette in to attack. The puppet reaches the madman just as he regains a solid footing on the ground, and he ducks under the heavy mallet swing, loops his arm around my marionette's, and twists, throwing the puppet away and into a tree. I hear wood cracking as the puppet hits.

Hale rushes the man, who reaches behind him and draws a long knife from his belt, flipping it around to bear against the swordswoman. The madman thrusts forward with the knife, but Hale deflects it with a swipe of her sword. With uncanny speed, the man draws his arm back and lunges again, and Hale is forced to use her other sword to parry the blow, then resorts to kicking at the man. He leaps back, avoiding the strike, then lurches forward again, showering Hale in a furious storm of thrusts that even the skilled swordswoman is hard-pressed to defend from.

I dart to the side, re-attaching the mana strings to my marionette and bringing it to flank the madman, cleaver and hammer coming together from either side. In a display of surprising agility, the man spins to face my marionette and leans backward, bending at his knees to go under the attack, then spins and catches my puppet with a solid kick in the chest. As the marionette recoils, the madman springs back up, twisting in the air and striking at Hale again. His knife slides right past the woman's face, stabbing through the back of her hood.

Hale freezes for an instant as the blade flashes by her, and her foe seizes the opportunity, darting out with his free hand to grab Hale by the throat. With no time to retrieve my marionette, I dart into the melee myself, raising one control bar and smashing the reinforced end into the madman's face, breaking his hold on Hale and bouncing him across the forest floor.

The madman gets back on all fours, lowering himself and snarling rabidly. He's close enough that I can see the madness in his eyes, peering out wildly through his unkempt hair. I raise my control rods into a fighting position, grimly silent, but instead of charging, the madman leaps off the path, into the heavy forest, out of sight.

I spin around, looking for any sign of him, but I don't even hear him moving through the brush. I let out a deep sigh, relaxing. Hale is coughing and hacking furiously, and she's stuck one sword into the ground and is using her free hand to massage her throat. “He's... good,” she slowly chokes out.

I nod, “that's no lie.” I had expected him to be crazy, and he certainly fulfilled that, but he also showed surprising competency in battle, keeping the both of us on our toes. He's had experience fighting adventurers, and a lot of it. In retrospect, it seems obvious from the numerous corpses littered around the Witchwood that this madman is a foe to be reckoned with.

I regard Hale, who is still coughing, but not so violently. She's taken up her other sword and wiped the mud off of it. “You OK?” I ask her, and she gives me a sharp nod. “Good, then let's move. It's clearly not safe here. Maybe we can find a place to set up a fight on our own terms.”

We set back off through the woods, deeper into the madman's territory, now on high alert. Hale has one sword resting over her shoulder and the other held down at her side, and my marionette shambles along next to us. For all the combat skills I have in puppetry, something as simple as walking has always evaded me, and the puppet walks along with a crooked, stilted gait.

The fog grows even heavier, and we can barely see more than a few feet in front of us. To make matters worse, nighttime is drawing close, and darkness hangs over the Witchwood. We'll be totally blind once night descends, and we'll have to rely on a light, which will make us a beacon for the madman. I'd rather avoid that poor situation, so we look for a place to hole up for the night.

Hale holds her sword out to the side in front of me, bringing me to a stop. She points the weapon into the fog, “see that?” She asks. I peer into the obscuring fog, and can vaguely make out a glowing orange blot.

“Fire,” I say, “probably him. Let's see if we can get the jump on him.” Hale nods, and we creep forward slowly, silently, and as stealthily as we can.

Slowly, the warm glow grows stronger, and we get close enough that we finally see a small wood cabin nestled in the trees. Light pours out from the windows, and inside there must be a roaring fireplace. “Let's get a closer look, quietly. We may be able to take him by surprise,” I hiss, and Hale nods. Weapons at the ready, we crouch down, creeping out of the tree line and heading for the cabin.

I try to peer through the windows from a distance, but can't make out anything from the inside of the cabin. If the madman is inside, he's not moving much, or else we would see his shadow playing across the walls. If he's there, we can burst in and catch him by surprise, and if he isn't, we can enter silently and lie in wait. A win-win situation.

Shing! Shi-shi-shi-shi-shing!

Like the sound of a half dozen swords being drawn from scabbards all at once, I hear the noise come from right next to me. My head whips around and I lock eyes with Hale. The swordswoman gulps, eyes bulging, then looks down at the source of the sound.

She has one foot places in a small, glowing purple circle in the ground, and several thin spikes have shot up from the ground and impaled her left leg at all angles. As we watch, the spikes curl, starting to wrap themselves around her leg. Hale grits her teeth for just an instant, then relents to a scream of agony as blood trickles from her leg down the spikes.

“A trap!” I exclaim, whirling around just in time to see the madman rushing for me, a knife gleaming in one hand and a woodcutting axe in the other, with a bloodthirsty, savage smile on his face.

I fling my control bars up in front of my, barely parrying a knife thrust, then sidestep out of the way to avoid an overhead swing of the axe. I pull back, and my marionette darts in, raising its mallet to smash the madman.

But, of course, he's faster. He leans back and narrowly avoids the blow, then kicks my marionette firmly in the chin, throwing it into the air, and he slams his axe into the puppets chest, lodging the blade deeply and tossing it aside. My mana strings go dark and fade.

I hiss, stepping back and raising my weapons. Hale is wounded and incapacitated, my marionette is down for the count, and I have no other party members to back me up. I'm going to have to solo the madman.

I take a deep breath, bracing myself just as the madman lunges for me, knife poised to stab. I block carefully, keeping my control rods close to my chest, only deflecting the knife as much as I need to, ready for the next strike. Knife fighters are tricky, and often have tricks lying in wait; the important part is to stay in control and ready for anything they try to pull. This is doubly true when the opponent is crazy.

Suddenly, the madman lurches backward, going into a back flip and placing his hands on the ground as his feet rush up in a pair of kicks. I lean back, feeling the wind go by as his feet barely brush my chin. Before he can complete the maneuver, I reach out with my mana strings, wrapping them around one foot and wrenching it back down to the ground. Off-balance, the madman gapes, meeting my gaze for a second before I plant my other control bar squarely on his nose. Wasting no time, I follow up with another strike, this one in his gut, then join my hands together and land a smashing uppercut on his jaw. The madman sails back from the force of the blow, and with the scarce seconds I've earned, I check on Hale.

The swordswoman is gritting her teeth, keeping from screaming but still letting out muffled shouts of pain as the spikes wrap tighter and tighter around her leg. She tries to cut them off, but the spikes are numerous, sturdy, and moving, and she looks to be having trouble getting them all off. I don't have time to help her, as the madman is getting back to his feet, so I run toward the cabin instead to draw him away.

It works; I hear him gibbering and howling in anticipation as he chases me, still on all fours, with his knife flailing in the air. As I run, I gather mana in my body, creating a dozen shards of ice that I spin around and launch at the madman. Most of them miss, but a couple land grazing hits on his back and shoulder. He doesn't seem to mind; and leaps forward, tackling me and stabbing at me.

I drop a control bar and grab his knife hand, forcing it up and away from me, but it's a struggle; the madman is clearly stronger than me, and it's all I can do to hold him back. I try to swing at him with my other hand, but he catches it by the wrist and twists painfully. I grit my teeth, focusing more mana into my hand, forming a fireball in my palm.

He looks just in time to catch fire straight in the face, and rolls off of me, howling and screaming as he beats at his flaming hair and beard. I get back to my feet, eying my abandoned control bar, but leaving it; it's too close to him, and he'd have me in a bad spot if I tried to retrieve it. Having only one control bar limited the effectiveness considerably, but it will have to do. I raise the weapon in front of me, conjuring up another fireball in my off hand.

The madman manages to put the fire out, and faces me again, snarling viciously, knife poised at his side. He charges again, staying low, and I throw the fireball. He avoids it, barely, and gets in close to me. I grit my teeth, twisting just enough to avoid the first stab. I use my mana strings to wrap around the knife, swinging it around, grabbing his arm with my free hand. The madman wraps his other arm around my throat, pulling my back to him as he flips the knife around, holding it in a reverse grip, and pulling it back toward me.

I struggle to keep his knife at bay, pushing against his arm, restraining me. Slowly, I bring my free hand back, using just my mana strings to keep the knife at bay. My hand is trembling and the strings are strained; I can feel the knife getting free from my hold already.

I grab his arm around my throat, slowly prying it away with all my might. I get just enough space that can slip my head free, then I drop to the ground and release the knife, rolling away from the madman.

I spring back to my feet, raising my control bar and preparing another spell, but it's an unneeded gesture; without me holding the knife back, and out of the way of the blade, the madman only managed to stab himself. He's staring at the knife embedded in his chest now, eyes wide, not quite comprehending. He looks back to me, then drops to his knees and falls forward.

With the fight won, I let out a deep breath, dropping my shoulders, relaxing just a bit. I turn to Hale, still struggling with the spikes, and rush over to help her. She barely has the strength to cut at them anymore; her eyes are glazed and her breathing is ragged. How much blood has she lost? She's probably going into shock by now. I hand her a healing potion and help her drink it, then grab one of her swords and start prying at the spikes.

“Bod... madman...” she whispers, throat hoarse. Hale is a quiet person, and I've never heard her raise her voice before, so she probably came close to losing her voice on that one scream.

“He's dead,” I say, sawing at one of the writhing spikes. I can't get through it, what are these things? “We won, now let's get you--”

Her eyes are quickly growing more alert, and she raises her arm, pointing. “No, Bod! Behind you!”

I turn to look, but before I can see him coming, the madman catches me with a kick in the stomach, sending me soaring across the small clearing. I slam into the cabin wall, and the air rushes out of me. I struggle to rise to my feet, but I can only get up onto my hands and knees.

The madman stalks toward me, disregarding Hale and focusing on me with singular intent to kill. He passes by my downed marionette and grabs the axe handle jutting out of it, dragging it through the ground. He stops in front of me, planting his foot on the puppet and prying the axe head free. I reach for my control bar, but I dropped the second one when the madman kicked me. I hiss, trying again to stand, but only making it to my knees.

The madman raises the axe overhead, grinning savagely, madness shining from his eyes.

Shnk! A sword flies past the madman, sticking in the cabin wall next to me. Thanks for trying, I think to Hale, not taking my eyes from the madman. Throwing a sword is a good technique, but not one Hale is familiar with; missing the mark was only natural.

Just before the madman swings his axe, a silver blur passes through him, and he freezes. He slowly drops to his knees, level with me, and I see Hale standing behind him, panting heavily.

The madman locks eyes with me, just before slumping back, falling onto the forest floor. Something I suspect is his head rolls away as he falls.

Hale sticks her sword in the ground, supporting herself. She's breathing heavily, and looks almost ready to pass out.

I let myself breathe, taking a moment to collect my thoughts. Now we've won. “Nice save,” I tell Hale, “how did you manage to get free...” I trail off as she collapses in a heap on the ground. Behind her, I can see the spike trap she stepped on, still active.

And still standing in the twisted spikes in Hale's severed leg.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Apr 29, 2016 10:12 am

I actually sat down to write this one ahead of time and make sure it was nice and polished, instead of slapping it together at the last minute. Then our power went out and my plans were destroyed. Oh well. Made it!

Misadventures of the Unusuals

Chapter the Twentieth: The Replacement, the Progress, and a Change of Scenery

“Why do you people have to be so heavy?” I hiss through clenched teeth at Hale, unconscious on my back. Even minus a leg, the swordswoman is heavy for me, and I have trouble pushing on through the dense forest of the Witchwood.

I've managed to mostly curb the bleeding from Hale's severed leg with copious administration of healing potions and tight binding with mana strings, but she's still in bad shape. Normal injuries aren't usually a problem; magic and some alchemy can heal most things up just fine. But a dismemberment is different; nothing short of Noel rebuilding a body can replace a lost limb, and people generally try to avoid the need for that.

So, for the moment, I'm stuck carrying Hale's dead weight through the forest to get some help from the druids and witches. It's nearly pitch black in the forest, and the plentiful noises from the forest are enough to keep me on edge; creaking, howling, movement in the bushes, there's no telling what's out there.

I lose track of how long it takes; I'm already exhausted and my body feels numb from the exertion, but I don't stop. Eventually, finally, I break free from the trees into the small clearing around the monument, completely devoid of life; all the druids and witches have gone back to their own lairs to await news on the madman.

I drop Hale on the ground, too drained to carry her anymore, and gather up my mana. I shoot a fireball into the air, rising quickly in the night sky, then follow up with a blast of lightning. The lightning strikes the fireball and makes a large, bright explosion in the air, eye-catching enough to be seen anywhere in the Witchwood.

It isn't long, or maybe it is; I've fallen asleep under the weight of exhaustion, before the onlookers arrive in the clearing. Echo and the witches arrive just next to us, while Galley, Skaem and the druidic entourage emerge from the far end of the clearing.

“Hale?” Echo speaks first, seeing the limp form of his sister lying in the grass next to me. She doesn't stir. ”Hale!” Echo cries, diving to the ground and skidding through the dirt to grab his sister, trying to shake her awake.

“She's hurt, bad,” I say, rising to my feet and placing a hand on Echo's shoulder. “She lost her leg fighting the madman.”

In seconds Skaem, Beatrice and Agnes are crowding around, trying to examine the wounded girl. “Messy cut, bad angle...” “Lots of blood loss, but the wound's sealed for now...” “Beyond normal magical means to recover...” They mutter and think aloud to themselves as they look her over.

I try to pull Echo back, but the boy resists. “There's nothing you can do; get out of their way.” I say, wrapping an arm around his chest and pulling him back, dragging him through the grass. He struggles and thrashes violently against my grip.

“Let me go!” he shouts desperately, swinging his arms and legs wildly to try and break free from my grasp. “That's my sister! She's hurt! Let me go!

The back of his fist connects with my face, and suddenly I'm soaring through the air, crashing through a tree, and slamming into the next with an unpleasant crunch. It can be easy to forget that the kid has physical strength on par with a deity of war. With swimming vision and soreness upon soreness, I manage to get to my feet and look back, and see Galley holding the struggling urchin overhead, slowly marching away from the medical examination going on.

With them out of the way, I walk -or, wobble- back over to our wounded party member, staying a few paces back so as not to be in the way. “How does it look?” I ask hesitantly after a few seconds.

“Not pleasant.” Skaem answers brusquely. “Nothing can be done about regenerating the leg; Noel alone can manage a feat like that. But she took this injury by our request; I will provide a suitable alternative.” The giant druid takes a pouch from his belt and withdraws a single seed from it, holding it over the stump leg. He lets the seed go, and it floats in the air, glowing with a faint golden light. The giant holds his hands over the seed, channeling mana into it.

“What are you doing?” I ask, craning my neck to get a look at the seed, growing brighter now.

“Growing a new leg,” Skaem answers tersely, “it won't be perfect, but it's better than nothing. A far cry better than those peg legs sailors in the city have.”

“So... like your chin?” I ask, noting again his wooden features.

“Something like that.”

“Well, we sent her out, too! We'll be the ones to heal her!” Agnes barks, rolling up the considerable sleeves on her robes and holding her hands out to the seed, mimicking Skaem's stance. The old crone nods sharply for Beatrice to do the same, and the younger woman hesitantly complies. Dark, purple “light” flows from their hands and darkens the glowing seed.

“What are you doing, you fools? You'll contaminate the purity of the magic!” Skaem shouts, looking ready to bop the both of them upside the head. I'm sure he would, if he wasn't required to hold still for the spell's sake.

“Your herbal nonsense will do her no good; this girl is a warrior!” Agnes replies, “she needs strong magic, powerful magic, to assist her. Your ancient, flowery ways will do her no good!”

“Um, sister Agnes, perhaps we should listen to the druid...” Beatrice says quietly.

“Do you hear yourself girl? Cease your nonsensical prattle and concentrate! We can't let this root-eater's magic outdo our own, or the spell will be ruined!”

Beatrice presses her lips into a thin line, nods, and redoubles her efforts.

“Have you gone mad? You don't know what your dark and evil sorcery will do to the seed! I don't even know!” Skaem exclaims, but the witches don't reply. Growling, the druid turns his eyes back to the seed, pouring all his energy into the spell.

The seed basks in light both golden and dim, and soon sprouts open, small vines growing out, followed by rapidly growing live wood. As a result of the entropic magic of the witches, the wood rots and dies in seconds, but the druidic art restores it, and it gradually grows outward, more and more.

The glowing grows stronger, and I decide I may not be at a safe distance from this magic ritual, so I take several quick steps back and crouch down behind a boulder, peering around anxiously. Soon, the light grows blinding, and I cover my eyes to protect them. Then, suddenly, nothing; the blinding light all sucked in by a vortex of darkness, that in turn is absorbed into Hale.

I slowly approach the tired magicians, all looking worn out from the intensity of the ritual. Galley and Echo flank me, the latter having calmed down enough to hold himself back for the moment.

Hale is still unconscious, but where there had been a mangled stump of a leg before, there was now a new limb, made of winding, twisting, knotted wood that gave off a subtle dark mist. I have to admit, the magical prosthetic is detailed; even having separate, individual toes, that twitch slightly as we watch.

“Is she... OK?” Echo asks.

“For now,” Skaem says through heavy panting. “The new leg will carry her through your adventure... but you should have her body rebuilt as soon as you can.”

“It's even better, since we helped.” Agnes adds, “of course, if that lout hadn't tainted it with his dirt-based mushroom power, it could have been perfect.”

“We're lucky the seed didn't rot to ash because of you!” Skaem bites back, “I can;t fathom what you dim witted hags were thinking, interfering in a druidic ritual like that!”

The two of them go on, but we ignore them. Galley scoops up Hale and we take her to the far end of the clearing, laying her down in the grass. Echo sits by his sister's side, watching her intently, and Galley and I exchange a shrug and lie down in the grass, allowing ourselves to drift off and sleep the night through.

We actually do sleep until morning. Considering the journey we've had so far, since coming to Baorfost, finding the Witchwood, and basically skipping a night's sleep, it isn't too surprising.

I snap to alertness quickly, my instincts remembering being in a hostile environment and wasting no time with lingering drowsiness. I sit bolt upright, reaching for my control bars before anything else. There's no sign of danger, but it doesn't hurt to be sure.

Galley is snoring noisily beside me, sprawled out in the grass, one arm wrapped around Skaem's giant elk, which looks generally alarmed after becoming the giant's teddy deer. Echo and Hale are sitting next to each other, propped up against a tree. Echo is dozing lightly, but Hale is awake, green eyes open wide, scanning the clearing, occasionally trailing to her dark wooden leg, which still gives off wisps of dark vapor.

I walk over to the swordswoman and stand in front of her, crossing my arms, regarding her silently.

“Hey, boss.” She says after a moment, “nice seeing you and all, but, uh... would you mind telling me what is going on?”

I shrug nonchalantly. “Not much. You cut off your leg like a coyote in a trap, we beat the mad murderer, I dragged your big ol' self back here, and Skaem and the witches gave you a new leg. Looks pretty nifty, doesn't it?”

Hale frowns, staring at her new appendage. She slowly nods, “riiiight.”

“And speaking of those good-for-nothings...” I mutter, looking around the clearing. There, I can see Skaem leaning against the monolith, while the three witches huddle together as far from him as they can be. I flip a mental coin, and decide to approach Skaem first.

The giant looks up at me as I draw near, setting his wooden jaw and turning a hard gaze to me. “So it's true? You drove out that menace to our forest?” He rumbles.

I nod, “yep, took him down with extreme prejudice or whatever.” I say. “So, what's next? You want us to gather the petals of a legendary flower? Or hunt a mythical beast for its trophy? Or maybe you'd like us to dig a mine tunnel from here to Fyelma? What's next on our list of tasks to get you to guide us where we need to go?”

The giant eyes me for a long, cold moment,then closes his eyes and speaks resignedly. “Nothing. We had a bargain, and you upheld your end; I will take you to the far side of the Witchwood, that you may enter the unexplored half of Baorfost.”

I cross my arms, squinting suspiciously. “Just like that?”

He cracks one eye open and meets my gaze levelly. “Just like that.”

I hold eye contact for a few more seconds, then finally turn away from the druid, and go to the witches.

Agnes, Beatrice and little Cornelia are whispering to each other in hushed tones, or, to put it more accurately, the older two are convening while the little girl looks back and forth in turn to her elders.

I clear my throat to get their attention, and the witches' conversation stops abruptly. They all three turn to look at me, expectant looks on their faces.

“Just like you asked, we got rid of that madman in your forest for you.” I say, “and Skaem has already agreed to uphold his end of the bargain. Will you come with us and show us the way through the Witchwood?”

“Feh, why bother? You'll have that brute, won't you? Why would you need our help?” Beatrice spits, but Agnes nudges her.

“We'll go,” the old crone says, “wouldn't want that old druid to make a wrong turn and lead you in circles for weeks. It can happen here.” With help from her small aide, the elder witch rises to her feet, leaning on her cane. “I trust you'll want to leave immediately. Can your friend walk yet?”

I glance back at Hale, who is now using Echo as a support to steady herself. She walks slowly, limping on her new leg, but seems to quickly adjust to it. I nod, “looks like we're ready.”

I kick Galley awake, and beckon for the giant to join us as we all join up and head out of the clearing. We leave the ancient monolith behind and forge on through the forest, Skaem and Beatrice leading the way, with our party in the center, and Agnes and Cornelia bringing up the rear.

We hardly say a word as we walk; even with things looking up as they are, we're still in the Witchwood, and the grim and foreboding atmosphere doesn't lend itself to idle chatter. Hale leans on Echo for a little while, but soon she grows confident enough in her new leg to walk on her own, and doesn't seem to be having any major difficulty with it.

We hike through thick foliage and dense fog for what must be hours. The forest just keeps on going. I'm honestly surprised that Agnes and Cornelia are keeping up so well; I would have thought the old hag and the little child would be holding us up constantly, but they're keeping the pace just fine.

Finally, Skaem and Beatrice stop in front of a heavy, thick bush. The exchange a glance with each other, then step to either side, turning to look at us. “Beyond is the far side of Baorfost, which you seek for your adventures.” Skaem says. “We have brought you this far, but we will not set foot outside the Witchwood for you. Form this point on, you're on your own.”

“Beware, adventurers; the second half of Baorfost is wild and untamed, and there is no telling what may lie in wait there.” Beatrice adds. “Stay close to one another; you will be the best weapons your party has.”

“You survived the Witchwood; that's a good start,” Agnes adds, “let's see if your luck holds out further.”

I exchange glances with the party, hand on their weapons, faces set with determination. They're ready. I turn my gaze to Beatrice, then Skaem, and nod. The pair nod in return, each reaching into the bushes and pulling them aside.

Light burst through, shining radiantly into the darkness of the Witchwood, piercing through the heavy, nigh-impenetrable fog with ease. I put my hands over my eyes, shading them, and take a step forward. I look out at the wild land of far Baorfost, and can't help but let out a breath of astonishment.

The place is a massive, wild rainforest; tall trees, thick plant life, dark forest canopies that blot out the sun underneath, though not to anywhere near the depressing extent of the cursed Witchwood. I can see large birds flying above the rainforest, and other animals moving along the ground and in the trees. Off to the side, along the mountain range, a huge waterfall flows freely. In the distance, I can see the crumbling ruins of what must be an ancient temple, towering above the trees; that will be holding the dungeon we've come to search.

“Whoa...” Echo breathes in awe, while Galley whistles lowly, and a quick glance shows Hale nodding her head in approval. I take a deep breath of the fresh, warm, humid air, walking out of the cover of the Witchwood and into the open space of Baorfosts other half.

A wide grin splits my face, "Well, this is it. Thank's for all the he--" I turn back to Skaem and the witches, and the sight freezes the words in my throat.

Four skeletons of varying heights, all standing there, staring a us with empty sockets. The smallest one raises an arm and waves briefly. Then a gust of wind reduces them to dust, and the bushes close again, leaving the cursed forest blocked off to us.

I gulp and suppress a shudder, turning back to face forward. After a moment, we've all had our fill of the view, and we start the long hike ahead of us.

“What do you think we need to be prepared for?” Hale asks, hands placed warily on the pommels of her sword.

“Who knows? We're in uncharted territory,” I answer.

“I hope it's something that explodes nicely, I want to try these out.” Echo says, poring over his spell tome as he walks.

“Find some new spells?” I ask.

“Something like that,” Echo says. It takes a moment, but I suddenly realize he's reading a new spell tome.

“You got a new tome?” I ask.

“Yeah, the witches gave me an old spell tome... um, it was just lying around.” Echo says.

“Oh really? They just gave you this tome? Awful generous of them.” Hale says flatly, rolling her eyes.

Echo crosses his arms, “yes, it rather was.” He says, turning his nose up in the air.

Hale puts a hand to her temple, and I'm sure she feels the same headache I do whenever Galley does something stupid. “Bod, we should go and return the book, right?” she asks.

I stop and think. “The witches that tried to use us as hitmen, caused only trouble, and eventually sent us on a hunt for a powerful villain after cutting out party in half and giving us no support... No, I think they can manage without one spell tome.”

Echo smirks smugly, “and besides, tome or no tome, you ought to see what he did,” he says, gesturing toward Galley.

Immediately, all eyes turn to the giant, who has his hands in his pockets and is whistling nonchalantly. “Galley...” I say hesitantly, not sure if I want to proceed with this line of questioning.

“Go on, big guy. Show 'em the gun.” Echo encourages smugly.

Galley glances down and I catch his eye, inclining my head sharply toward him. The giant sighs deeply and draws one of his guns, handing it to me for inspection. I'm not an expert with the mana pistols, but this one looks the same as always; gleaming silver casing, reflective enough to function as a mirror, blue gem set into the bottom of the grip, white wood screwed onto the sides. I shrug, “looks normal enough to me,” I say.

Echo snickers, and I can see Galley looking away uncomfortably, coughing lightly to clear his throat and trying, for all it's worth, to look normal. “Galley, give me your other gun.”

The giant's eyes shift around, not meeting mine, as he slowly and deliberately draws his second gun and hands it to me. This one, I can see the problem with right away: the once-dead wood bolted to the handle has grown over half the gun, and small and flowers sprout out from every tiny gap and crevasse in the weapon, covering it in plant life. Minus the wood having a growth spurt, it looks like what you'd expect after filling one of these with dirt and letting it sit outside for a few years, except there's no rust.

“Galley, what did you do to your gun?” I ask, very sure I don't want to know the answer.

“Well... you know Skaem's seeds?” The giant says. I nod. “I thought, 'if I could shoot these into the ground with my pistol, we wouldn't have to dig holes in the ground to plant trees!'”

“So... you took the magic, super-growth seed, and jammed it into your gun?”

“And when I used my mana... it grew.”

I sigh deeply, handing the guns back to Galley; I don't even want to look at them anymore. “Echo, I expected the petty, impulsive thievery from you... I should have seen it coming when you volunteered to stay behind with the witches. But Galley, I thought you would know better.”

“You really thought he would know better than to stuff a magic seed into his pistol?” Hale asks. I pause, then sigh again and shake my head.

“Have you tried firing it yet?” I ask the giant, who shakes his head. “All right... just, don't. Don't use it, at all, at all until we can get someone who knows what they're doing to look at it.”

“So I have to test out my new spells to see if they're effective, and that brute managed to incapacitate one of his weapons,” Echo says, looking up from his tome and grinning, “but look on the bright side... Hale will have a real leg up on the enemy!”

Hale punches the brat in the back of the head.

The jungle is thick with moisture, and the air is heavy. It's a very warm climate, especially composed to the menacing chill of the Witchwood. The trees and brush have grown thick, but it's easy to navigate and find a path through, especially once we set Hale in the front to cut through the thick foliage and clear an easy path for us.

Soon, we're standing in front of the ruined temple we saw from far off. Despite some wear and tear from time, the stone structure stands tall and proud, reaching up into the sky with two jutting spires. The base of the temple is overgrown with weeds, and ivy scales up the sides, but it's still a clearly impressive monument to some old deity or another.

Before us is a wide staircase, leading up to a pair of massive doors. Inside, it'll likely hold some kind of dungeon designed to keep the Wings of Fate safe from any and all who seek them. Which, unfortunately, means us. There's no telling what traps or even creatures may await us in there.

I draw my control bars, rolling my shoulders to work the stiffness out of them; this heavy pack still wears on me after a while. I glance back to check on the others; Echo has his new tome in one hand and his wand in the other, Hale has both swords drawn and held down comfortably at her sides, and her bare wooden leg still gives off that dark vapor, and Galley, forgoing his mana pistols, is resting his massive sword on one shoulder.

I nod, then step forward onto the first stair.

The stone sinks in under the weight of my foot, and a spear shoot from the ground, grazing my cheek. I quickly recoil, and give the staircase a sour look. “All right... Good news, guys: it's gonna be one of those dungeons.”
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri May 06, 2016 11:26 am

OK guys, I have some bad news to give you. After a record-breaking seventeen consecutive weeks of new chapters, I'm going to miss this week. And, for the sake of consistency, I'm going to skip this month. Yes, that's right, I will not be posting any new chapters for the month of May. Heck, I might even miss the first week of June.

Basically, the reason for this is that I don't have time to work on it. Blah blah, life is busy, all that jazz. BUT, this month, because it's that time of the year again, pretty much all my writing time is going to be focused on Fine Arts. There's some nonsense in the system that I don't feel like explaining, but the bottom line is that I'm writing entries to go straight to the national level, so I have to make 'em all nice and pretty and stuff. The main reason for this is that I'm old.

All that to say, I'm taking the month off, and possibly the first week in June, since that Friday is actually the deadline for Fine Arts entry. After that, the program should continue as usual. Sorry for the short notice, and thanks for your patience. If anybody is even still reading, anyway. See you in a month.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Wolfsong » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:15 am

*still patiently waiting*
"Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day." Psalm 25:4-5

"Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles." Psalm 25: 16-22

Thank you. Have a good day.
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby ClaecElric4God » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:23 pm

I admittedly have not been reading this because I'm lazy. But I demand that you continue! I know you're still out there, Odd!
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? -Micah 6:8 KJV
They have shewed thee, O teen, what is good; and what doth the world require of thee, but to fit in, be wealthy, have good looks, and be rebellious? -Peer Pressure 1:1
"I hate milk; it's like drinking vomit." -Edward Elric and me. :fmed:

ClaecElric4God in regards to Wolfsong - You're the coolness scraped off the top of this morning's ice cream, after being pulled out of a beautiful summer day!
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Re: The Odd Writings

Postby Oddood198 » Fri Jan 29, 2021 8:58 am

Oddood198 wrote: See you in a month.

Psh. Get a load of this guy.

So yeah, here I am, because no good work is ever done. But I can at least put the mediocre ones to rest.

It's clearly been a hot minute since this got any attention, yeah? So it must be pretty weird that I'm back here now, to drop a few updates and finish this story out. Weird for me, too. Like, it's so nostalgic to be typing this out in the post editor here. In an era of servers and group chats, I'm back on an actual forum, and it's bizarre.

But this has been eating at me. As surely as the proverbial worm in the apple, this thread, this story has been chewing at my brain all these years. Not to finish writing it; I did that years ago and told myself the sweet lie that every writer says: "I'll edit this, polish it, and only then will I show the world what I have created!" Yeah, that didn't happen. This is as raw and wriggling as when I churned it out in 2017, and it's been waiting in cold storage since then. I just woke up one day recently and thought to myself, "it's time."

"But Odd," I hear you saying. "Why here? Why now? Surely you know the forum is practically dead. Everyone's moved to Discord! And this thread, your own baby, has been neglected these last four years. 1736 days since the last update!" And to that I say, you should have stopped counting after, like, five.

I'm... losing the plot. I'm rambling now. Train's derailed. You've read enough of my blathering: you want the story. Or, maybe you don't. Maybe this'll never get read by anything but the Google bots that are scouring this dying forum day after day. But whether there's an audience or not, it's not about you. It's about me finishing this story and proving, to myself, that I can do it. If somebody out there happens to see this and actually enjoy it, well, all the better. Glad to brighten your day just a bit.

And anyways, the main reason THIS post is getting made is to be a filler so the next page of this thread has the actual chapter. Speaking of which, if you just move to the next page, you should see the shocking conclusion of...
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