May 21, 2017

On the Threshold Of Adventure- Chapter 2: Murky Bars, Making Friends

    Spirits were high for the most part among the party, as they walked away from the last of the shops. Fortune saw them fit to favour, they gained a lot of information and some wealth... but for Violet, things were bittersweet. She was jealous at first, but had come to regard Ivy as a friend... they knew the score. This was temporary. So, the two- alongside their acquaintances- set off toward  The Silver Dragon. A nice enough tavern, with clean bedding and decent clientele. The innkeep tended to the bar, busy polishing a tumbler when the group walked in.

    "Afternoon gentlemen, and ladies. How can I help you?" His eyes skimmed them all... two of them were unlike anything he'd seen in quite some time. A draco-form and a goat man. Strange...

    "We'd like to rent some rooms. Just for a single night. How many would you happen to have available?" The goatman spoke to him. Surprised by his charm and politeness, the innkeep answered without thinking.

    "Well, that depends. How many would you require?" Leaning on the bar, the innkeep looked them all over. Five in all... Hmm, he didn't have quite that many rooms... He had three or four he could spare, but it would be tight...

    "Four will do fine, if you have them. Some of us will share." Sera had been scribbling away on her chalkboard, holding it up. Slowly the innkeep nodded, thinking about it. Four he could spare.

    "I can manage that; some of them are booked up, but I've got four left. That'll be four gold, please." A small bag of coins was slid over, which caused him to look again. The shorter woman looked at him, though averted his gaze...  Wait, were they purple? Blue? He couldn't quite tell. Still, pocketing the gold, he handed over four keys. "Straight up the stairs, last four down the hall."

    Everyone walked away in relative silence, and the innkeep went back to work. It didn't take long for them to re-converge outside, walking away. The shorter woman skipped a little ahead, which strunk everyone as just a touch unusual. Especially when she turned on a copper and faced them, nearly literally running into Asriel.

    "Why don't we go get some drinks? I know a really great place. They have all these exotic selections! I mean, I don't drink much but still..."

    "Sure, Violet. I don't really care either way. Anyone else? Sera?" The man with wavy blue hair was the first to reply.

     "I don't mind, especially given after all the bullshit we put up with. Count Jordan and I  both in." More chalkboard scribbling. 

    "I suppose not... I'm not likely to get much, I'm... a bit light on coin." The draco-form spoke up next, and Violet's laugh echoed a little.

    "Relax, Silver. I'll cover it. I really think it's worth trying out. That leaves you, er- Sorry, I'm not very good with names."

    "Asriel. And... yes. I'd like that." The goatman spoke up once more, though his wariness showed reluctance. From his experiences with the Hin woman, he wasn't sure what her angle was. Nor if he liked her much yet.

    "That settles it, come on- I'll lead the way!" With that, she turned and trotted down a few roads. Winding streets saw buildings get closer, streets narrower. Overall tone changing, from one of bright affluence to... smokier, more obscure... less- friendly. Yet, all of them gave the group of five space. Strange, but moreso, the tavern... The Singing Pearl. There wasn't really a sign like other places; just the title, in faded lettering once pearlescent. 

    Violet slipped up the door. "Here we are, guys- the Singing Pearl. A real gem of a place, when you know where to look."

    "Uh... Violet, is it?" At her nod, he went on. "Is this... a good idea?"

    " Of course it is! It's a great place." Her expression faded a little, though. Seemingly satisfied, Asriel opened the door, and went inside.

    Smoky, murky and definitely not the place for someone like him. In here, all manner of criminals, degenerates and more dominated the place. All eyes fell to him when he stepped in- and the tone shifted. People were suspicious now, but that changed again as Silver walked inside. Weapons were drawn- where Asriel was suspicious, and strange... Silver was downright fear-inspiring.


    In the seconds ensuing, Sera, Jordan and Violet made their way inside. The Hin weaved her way through the front, eyes glittering a beautiful blue-based violet in the murky light. Once again, the atmosphere changed- weapons were withdrawn, people shrunk back. A man of impressive stature rose to his feet, and walked right over to them. Clearly, the 'King Of the Singing Pearl' and the man in charge. Glaring at every single face, he went tallest to shortest. 

    Most of them meant nothing, but when he saw the Hin... he dropped to one knee, to get down on her level. "What table to do you want?"

    None of them knew how to take this. Why was HE talking to Violet with... deference? And why did she seem so... comfortable? "That table by the bar, sweetie. Thanks for asking." 

    Getting up, the man moved to the table bar-side, the one asked for. A dagger slammed into the middle of it. "Move." All current users of the table grabbed their things and left, so the newcomers could take it. Something was amiss here, they knew it. But what... none who could say would talk.

    "Evening. What can I get you?" A dwarven man walked over, unusually proper and rigid. Silver's brow furrowed, as if in recall. Violet's expression turned dark- and the King noticed this, choosing to watch this unfurl. Still, the dwarf looked at the tall, scaled man... and at the same time, both of them came to a conclusion.

    "Silver? Thought I recognized ye, lad! How are yeh?" The dwarf grinned

    "Thorin? What brings you to here of all places? I haven't seen you since my training days in Specularum."

    "I was Captain Of the Guard. After a while, went back home. Couldn't change my stance there, so I stayed in the society where I found respect."

    "Still doesn't explain why you ended up here."

    "Oh, I decided to pursue an interest of mine- mixing alcohol. Helps that the owner here's usually too intoxicated to run things. Mind your footing, by the way." The owner was lying under the bar nearby, passed out. He shrugged, and looked back. "What can I get all ye?"

    "Whatever's cheapest, really. Been a bit down on my luck."

    "Mead's fine for me."

    "Whatever gets me drunk."

    "Anything I can drink through a straw without trouble."

    Violet remained silent, glaring daggers. If looks could kill...

    Four drinks were made up, and he looked to to the woman glaring daggers at him. "Not much of a drinker, are ye?"

    "No, I'm not. Especially not from... well, it's irrelevant."

    "Ah, Ivy warned me about the Ice Queen."

    "Wait, you know Ivy? How?- Not like it matters, but still." Her facade of anger broke for a few seconds, then redoubled on him. He laughed to see it.

    "Aye, I do. We talked for quite awhile earlier, before she went on her way. Thinks quite highly of you, that she does." At the relative silence, he went on "Said something about the lot of ye heading up to Highdell in the morning. If you lot don't mind, I'd like to go with yeh. This is fun and all, but it's time to get back into the fray of adventurin'. Figure you could use a tactician, and Silver there can lend credit to mah talents."

    Silver nodded, looking everyone over. "That I can. The man is capable in battle, and got a good head on his shoulders. I can't think of a reason to refuse. Anyone else got one?"

    "I don't work with dwarves. Never met one I liked. Or- what in the Nine is that?" A glass appeared by her side, and she examined it. Warm cinnamon, and tart apple caught her nose. It reminded her of home... Tentatively, she picked up the glass.

    "Little something I've been working on. Might warm that icy reception up a little bit. Give it a try. While she does, anyone else object?"

    Mostly shaken heads, though scribbling on the chalkboard. "Can I get a glass of that? It smells positively divine."

    Thorin nodded, sliding a glass and fresh straw over. Sera gave it a try, and gave a thumbs-up. She also put a hand over Violet's mouth.

    "I think... it would be helpful... if he came. We could use... help; none of us knows... what's going to happen. More people... means more safety." It took Asriel some time, given his grip on Thyiatian wasn't the best. More nods from people, and a glare from the Hin. He'd live with that.

    "I agree, so we'll meet up at The Silver Dragon in the morning and be on our way. For now, I'm going to stock up, and get some sleep." Getting up, he left payment behind. Sera followed suit, and they left, Silver and Asriel hot on their heels. They made this plan, and completely ignored the objection. Satisfied, Thorin turned to face her once more.

    Violet was still wary, but the intoxication caught Thorin's attention more. He took the empty glass away, and looked her over "Need an escort, Miss?"

    "No, I'm... fine, just a l'il lightheaded... Can't believe I've gotta... s'not that bad, I guess... certainly not worse than- nevermind." She too, left- but was being followed, for safety. Going back to work, Thorin had an expression nobody could read on his face. This would prove to be... interesting. And she, a challenge.

Chapter 3- Illyana 

On the Threshold Of Adventure- Chapter 1: Brought Up To Speed

    It's been an interesting few months, to say the least. The weeks previous has been a whirlwind for all involved. 

    Silver had arrived first. A draco-form with his freedom was unusual... Half-brilliant, half-tarnished scales adorned his body, alongside heavy, tarnished armour. A broadsword hung freely on his side, backpack by his side. He prefered to keep his distance. Asriel, a Keeper of the Song, showed up next at the meet point. Just as unusual as Silver, but in a different way. Reminiscent of a goat, but mostly man- fiendish good looks and charm, though. He introduced himself as a Storyteller Of the Gods- specifically Havlav. It took some time- the barrier between Traladaran and Thyiatian rendered things difficult.

    Sera and Jordan, the Genasi Twins [as teasingly referred to sometimes] came next. Sera strode into the room, taking a seat on whatever chair was available. Jordan followed along, settling in near her. He had to do the explaining for both- they'd known one another a very long time, and due to some misfortune, Sera couldn't talk. She did, however, carry a chalkboard- communication was possible, but difficult at times. 


    Taking some time, he explained that they weren't quite human, so the two who preceded them would be in good company. [Charm isn't Jordan's strong suit]. Genasi were the result of humans and elementals mating; Sera was a Wind Genasi, he a Water one. He also explained that she was a ranger, he an artificer. She took care of the day-to-day, and he tinkered with things. They worked well together, so answered the call as a pair.


    Keaton had come along, a human healer, one who'd sworn off violence. He figured his talents would come in handy, for those on the front lines. Made things easier for him, at the very least. Last to arrive was Violet, though she'd been a touch difficult to see at first. She was a good foot and a half shorter than everyone else, and traveled much lighter. They weren't entirely sure of how she discovered such things... but they appreciated her talents.


    The first 'adventure', was to head into a swamp and clear out a goblin infestation from the mansion therein. They'd been terrorizing people nearby. It was... quite difficult; not just due to goblin steadfastness, either. The very house seemed to want them gone... especially to Violet. Her first clue was the study- ornate books, filled with an archaic Thieves' Cant and codes. Dread skeletons bearing a strange insignia... Violet recognized it as a Thieves' Guild mark. Gloves belonging to a woman she'd met once... 


    Inside a room, they found a strange cabinet, nearly impossible to open- even for Violet's skilled touch. Still, they found a hidden bedroom- and a man magickally asleep. The group managed to awake the man... and Violet freaked out. She knew this man- a legend in the Thieves' Guild. Raven, a man sent only when the rest of the Guild failed. He'd been missing for nine years, and nobody knew why- until now. She decided not to go back for awhile... having filched some of his stuff. Unknowingly, but still not very good form.



~


    Their second adventure came by way of exploring a manor on a hill. En route, they were pulled aside by a man... in much distress. Keaton recognized him at once, of the same faith he followed. They had found something very important- the Bell Of Chardastes. It needed reclamation before sundown, as the time held religious significance. The man was fixed up, left to rest. The group had gone to reclaim it, encountering chard fiends, a draconic spiraling keep, religious desecration, tar devils, evil clerics and more. They did manage to reclaim it in the end, but it came at a price. 

    The cleric of before was killed, his ribs yanked through his back, lungs set atop. Once again, Violet recognized it- the mark of the "Blood Angel Of Karameikos." Fear, and emotional distress, kept her silence... They buried him, returning to Threshold- and this is where Keaton's journey ended. He was heralded as a hero, accompanying the paladins to Specularum. In his wake, a High Elf by the name of Nyx decided to join them. A library within was promising, as foretold by a trio of sentient doors. To access it, they needed to find three orbs- pink, black and green. 


    Along the way, the party encountered insane traps [such as a statue of flint and flammable stone, which took all of Violet's skill and luck to not detonate], wily kobolds, buckets of oil in doors [poor Silver was set aflame] and a lot more. Much peril came for our heroes; zombies, giant spiders, and a trap nobody could figure out- among others. Opening the door slammed a huge slab down. Closing the door reset it. Finally, it made sense- an extra set of hinges set it off, and it was controllable. Trouble was, there was no way to see how big the slab was. Silver, Nyx and Violet volunteered to go inside. The trio had to force their way inside, as the trap went off. Unfortunately, they stirred up some Oil Beetles... and it cost Nyx her life. Everyone was shaken; they took care to bury her properly. Especially Silver... The party held a candlelit vigil, and buried her with her sword, planting a tree.


"Red like roses fills my head with dreams
And finds me always closer...
To the emptiness and sadness
That has come to take the place... of you.
Rest In Peace, Nyx."

     In the wake of that loss, they decided to regroup, recover from the shock. In that interim, a pixie named Ivy came into the scene. She was just here for a little while, but the real reason was Violet needed to show Ivy the ropes of the Thieves' Guild. Once more they dove into the mansion, and some mysteries unraveled. This time around, ogres, an ancient crystal wire trap, altars and more awaited our heroes. As did Him. Or at least, His voice. The voice of Leviticus, Violet's sworn enemy- enough to scare her off, which led to an incident with a bound doppleganger... and a puzzle of doors. Sadly, Jordan's life was taken, as he fell over a hundred feet to his death. 

    In the end, though, the party managed to find all the orbs- and a wealth of information. The Ylaruam Desert was once a Forest- and the Huta'aken, a potential slave race, were driven away by the elves. They may exist in the mountains north of Threshold- as written by Sir Sandalvav, a name Asriel knows very well. Even more potent, a word was found... a word so powerful, traces of Immortal magic [magic of the Gods] was on it. And they can't interfere on the Prime Material plane unless ALL of them agree. The name? Nithia. Information on Blackmoore, Warforged, Beastmen and knolls was also there. The party decided to seal the library once more.

    
    Their third adventure fell into their laps- in the form of a message for Violet. Her cousin had come to town, left a message at the tavern. It concerned a "vacation she'd taken some time ago" in Highdell... Determined to follow the lead given, she was convinced to wait one night. Ivy was leaving, and wished to celebrate before saying her farewell. They sold their extra things, and went to find a nice place to celebrate.


And that... is where our story begins.

On the Threshold Of Adventure- Introduction

    Hello to my readers! This is a new series I plan on writing about, On the Threshold Of Adventure. The story follows the chronicles of mine and my friends' current D&D group, in a strange land known as Mystara. For those unaware, Mystara comes from an early version of the popular fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons. Join our band of six heroes as they go discover a life of adventure. They'll learn more about the world they're in, secrets long-hidden, and maybe even about themselves.

    Storyteller Of the Gods, Asriel: This rather enigmatic Goatman [the closest to a Tiefling one can find in Mystara] Bard isn't cut from the same cloth as most bards are. He tends to be more modest, and instead of entertaining the masses with song or dance, he chooses to regale epic fables handed throughout the ages. Hailing from a land faraway, this individual found himself in the region of Karameikos, seeking knowledge and to spread the word of Havlav, the God he follows with a fierce- and powerful- devotion...

    Knight Of the Banished, Silver: Named for his scale colour [shiny and dull silver], this Dragon-kin Knight began his life enslaved to a dragon, as all dragon-types are to do. It's unclear how, but he broke away from his Master, and sought life devoted to the Gods. For awhile, he lived as a Paladin- but something happened. Silver's never talked about himself in any context, really. Life led him to Threshold, where he found himself entangled in a strange group of people. Whatever goals this Knight has remain unclear...

    Creation and Destruction's Student, Jordan- The world has never seen anyone quite like him! In this world, Genasi are a subset of Human- tempered down from their pure elemental forms. They're noticable due to their vividly-coloured eyes and hair. Which leads us to Jordan, a Water Genasi. Led to a life of Alchemy for reasons unknown, Jordan has- again, for undisclosed reasons- chosen to try his hand of adventuring. Together, he and his friend travel the land, seeking new and rare ingredients, potions and more...

    Huntress Forsaken, Sera- Silent, strange, super serious, scary [sometimes]... All words people think of upon first sight of this Storm Genasi Ranger. Her most distinctive feature is her sewn-shut mouth. Taking to writing on a board to convey her thoughts, Sera hasn't explained what happened. All she's written on the matter is "it happened a while ago. My tongue was also cut out. So I'd better not break my hands." There's clearly some secrets hidden in her past, to be revealed in due time...

    Soldier Of Fortune [and Alcohol], Thorin: Thorin is a dwarven Warlord with a surprising life! The son of Dwarven farmers, he chose to take life into his own hands. Soon he found walked among humans, who accepted him for his talents- not his birthright. Eventually he wound up in Karameikos' capital, Specularum. Fate led him to join the Army. He rose within the ranks, learning all he wished to know. Once completing his tenure, he returned home- only to find things hadn't changed while away. Eventually life took him to a dilapidated bar in Threshold; and in time, wound up in charge. [It helps when the owner is never sober]. Learning much of mixology, life once more sent a twist of fate, and now he finds himself on the open road once more...

    Slave Without Faith, Violet: Violet is so-called due to the strange violet eyes and hair- alongside eerily pale skin- she was born with. The rest of her Hin [akin to a Halfling] family is dark-skinned, with dark hair and eyes. Still, she lived a happy life, until circumstances led to a five-year disappearance. Violet never revealed what happened; but upon return, she was cold, quiet- broken of her innocence. Eventually life her to crime- and subsequently, a group that welcomed her with open arms. She keeps a lot of secrets locked up- secrets that are coming out of the past to confront her once and for all...

    Soon you'll be able to see things as they do, where Fate, Drama, Mystery, Action and much more brings twists, turns- and hopefully some happier times- to themselves and the world around them.

Author's Note: The colours are designed for reading ease. You'll see examples scattered throughout, but refer back to this page for the guide. The adventure doesn't start at the very beginning; multiple characters came and went in a rapid succession, so I unfortunately do not have notes. I'll start the first chapter with the earliest notes I do have, and a summation of what happened previously.


Chapter 1- Brought Up to Speed 

Honour Among Thieves; K'iaela's Code, Tips and Tricks

    Low-lives. Scum. Degenerates. Ne'er-do-wells. These are some of the names you'll hear if you ask peoples' opinions of thieves. Troublemakers, cut-throat, but small-minded. Even other criminals sometimes think this way, and it's kind of sad. All people have ethics- lines they just will not cross. Rules to... make things better for themselves. I'm no different. Just- more restrictive when it comes to my rules. 

Rule #1: Don't Commit Crime From [Or Near] Hearth and Home

    This should be the Ladies' [or Gent's] golden rule. I'm kind of shocked and saddened at how many criminals I've seen get captured, tortured, exiled, killed even- for doing this. Seriously. People who trust you will turn on you. Hands off- UNLESS you two are well-acquainted [or VERY well-versed in Hin society, should you ever travel/befriend one]. I happen to be, and in my society, we do what many call "stealing" but is borrowing. Here's an example- say I need to take care of some housework, including mowing my lawn. I'll borrow Smiling Bob's lawnmower and use it, but!- it had better be back by 8 am the next day, that's when he uses it. Never ~permanently~ steal from friends/family/adventuring parties. That's how you get in trouble FAST.

Rule #2: Don't BACKSTAB Near Hearth and Home

    Building on rule #1, keep family/friends/fell adventurers close, and enemies on their toes/at the edge of weapon of choice. Play it smart- you sweet-talk that asshole they owe a ton of gold to into forgiveness, they stop that massive ork with the mace from making your head paste. Sweet, not sour. Again, I'm saddened by how often I've seen this happen. You can be yourself, sure- but if you're a dick, you're not gonna live to achieve legendary awesomeness. [NOTE: This rule is out the window if they cross you or someone you care for. Barring good reason, it's ass-kicking time]

Rule #3: Play It Smart- Risk vs. Reward; Consider It!

    So you're walking down the street, minding your own business for once... then you see something. Glitter of gold, maybe even jewel. The scent of spices. Hell, maybe even apple pie on a windowsill. But! That belongs to the noble who just gave thanks to you. Or there are eyes on you. It's not worth it. Nor is small-time stuff, like shaking down helpless people [unless you're desperate...] Ain for the middle class- decent loot, but you can still talk/bribe your way out if busted. Remember- just because you can, doesn't mean you should. That said...

Rule #4: If You're Unsure, Come Back Later [Or Skip It]

    Sometimes, you feel like opportunity knocks at the door. Or does it?: Busy street, inconspicuous you... your favourite treat on a table... wait. Did that vendor see you? Is that baker across the way eyeing you up? In a suspicious way, no less. Doubt begins to creep in... Move on. Buy something legit, make a note and come back- or, more likely, just move on. You're no worse off for it. If you're really unsure, it's the better option. Risk and reward.

Rule #5: People See What they Want To See

    A ranger I once knew taught me this trick. Will... somebody or other, the last name eludes me. Valuable lesson in stealthing- people see what they want to see. If you're going along and a sentry's gaze moves toward you, freeze. Movement betrays you more than vision, if you're blended in well enough. Bonus tip- cloaks/outfits to match your environment are always a safe way to go. Brown/green works for day, greys all the time, black for night.

Rule #6: Person People Go Places [aka Favour Over Fortune]

    Charm, vice, coin. These go much farther than threats, harm and/or deprivation. Do things for people, just because. If they offer repayment, offer favours if you can afford to [hey, people gotta eat too, yanno]. Gaining a rep for being helpful/generous/charming takes you very far. Tricks are easier to turn with far less suspicion from the girl with a heart of gold and a little luck.

Rule #7: Know Thyself Extremely Well

    People judge. In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet. Use this to your advantage when you can! Look, I've seen/heard a lot of mixed stuff because of my race. On the positive side, my people are cheerful, warm, non-offensive types. Play that up when you can! It helps engender that opinion. Diffuse situations without violence as much as you can. On the downside, we've a rep for being thieves/cowards. Change that about YOU when you can. Stay by trusted people. Stand your ground when need be. But do note this CAN backfire.

Rule #8: Hide As Much As You Can [Until Trust Is Established]

    Chances are, if you're like me, you don't want that getting out. Cover your tracks. Use disguises, aliases, cover stories. Half-truths are your best friend for this; the best liars know this. Eventually, though, inconsistencies will happen. This happens with people whom you see a lot. Depending on who's asking, you may wish to lie... or maybe they're someone you can reveal yourself to. If that's the case, well- I hope they can be trusted as much as you think. Take them somewhere isolated [I find walks/campfires helpful for this] and make sure you're even-tempered when you come clean. Expect some backlash, though. 

    If you stick to the rules, things are gonna go a lot smoother for you. It's not always going to be perfect, but it's going to be better.

May 20, 2017

Violet's Diary- a Letter To the Party

    Sometimes, I wonder just how long I can make this last. Deceptions. Secrecy. People are beginning to suspect; is this insight, or mere perception and prejudice upon my part? I cannot say, dearest Diary. Though I CAN confide in you without fear of judgement, or consequence. 

    To the worlds around me, I am a Trapmaster and Artist. I open things people cannot themselves, and I make beautiful things for the world. And to an extent, these are true. But, as many know, my talents can have a more malevolent intent... but right now, I've decided to take my yallaren, or "walkabout", as the too-talls understand- and am adventuring. 

    I digress. My talents, while legitimate... well, they do take on a more malevolent tone. You know not my real self, Diary. So I'll have to confess, to avoid losing my mind. I am a Lady, belonging to the Kingdom Of the Thieves. So technically, that makes me one of the Thieves. Writing that down makes me feel paranoid... and yet relieved, all at once. It's funny, I've been with these people some weeks- Sera, Jordan, Thorin, Asriel and Silver- and they don't even know my real name. Maybe one day, they'll become trusted enough for me to confide in. I'm afraid, however, Asriel would drag me in for my crimes- after proving them, of course.

    Violet, while a name of mine, is NOT the one I was given by my parents. That belongs to K'iaela. Hello. Violet is a slave name, given by my previous Mistress. Or 33579, as by my Masters, and Traders. None, save for my closer family, knows. It would raise a lot of questions- not like they don't already know I'm tied to the Iron Ring in some way. I'm certain they've figured it out. But they don't know the extent... the scars tell those tales. Four years of self-and-peer hatred, sadism, slavery of body and mind... it broke me down. They stole away any innocence, all the joy and love... Replaced by anger, fear, hatred.

    My family was driven to near-financial ruin. My "friends" turned coat on me. The ones who lived, anyways. All the suffering, the desolation, the drain... this was all my fault... I should never have gone into that woods. I just wanted to practice with my sling. I'm so sorry... I'm sorry that I couldn't fight them off. I'm sorry I went just a little too far away. I'm  sorry I caused so much worry, so many tears, all this ruin... I'm sorry for how worthless I am now. Tainted. Unwanted. Mistrusted. I'm sorry this ever happened... I pray to all gods that one day you'll forgive me... 

    I retain my slave name, to remind myself of what I've done to my family. I adventure- I left- to try and erase the shame. I send money home, to rebuild what once was. No freedom can ever shatter the bondage of a corrupted body and broken mind, of this I know... It's a cold comfort, as I reflect, on how much an "exotic" girl like me went for. Young, unusual in appearance, lithe yet curvy, so I could be a young girl or proper woman. I reflect on all the sexual slavery, the depravity those who handed me around came up with. The only real defense I ever had was to passively accept, taking my mind out of the moment.

    For those I passed hands, each grew worse and worse. There is one, whose mere voice, the name alone- he makes me paler than pale, scream in my sleep, bring the cold sweat forth. Levitius, the "Blood Angel" of Karameikos. I still retain the scars of metal fused to flesh, shackles that never came off. Whip marks on my back, burn scars, you name it. My body is a landscape of horror. But only in the places it would hurt the most. 

    I still cannot recall my escape. My Master's Levitius' boss was preparing to visit. People were a little more slack, a bit more focused on making sure everything was in line. Opportunity presented itself, and I took it. That winter's night was fortunate, cloudy and not so unpleasant to one without clothes. The lack of moonlight saved me, since they could not find my tracks in the dark, and winds blew them away before daylight. Winter's chill pushed me to run, unending, to collapse... Somehow, a party of adventurers had found me, teetering on the edge of death. It didn't take long to be brought home. 

    Silver, I wish I knew what plagued you. Maybe one day, you'll find some solace- I sincerely pray you do. Sera- I know something caused you great distress. You ARE mute, after all. You seek vengeance- and may the Gods assist you in that endeavour. I understand it well. Jordan, I hope your journey brings whatever you wish to find. And please, stop dying. Asriel, you're a rare soul- one these worlds need. Please, never stop being amazing- you bring a light to the darkness that more souls need to see. Thorin, from the first, I've envied your brilliance. Never lose it- as I lost mine. I'm sorry I'm so difficult to bear. I'm sorry for everything... I know all the strifes are of my doing. If I ever come back, I'll try my best to be better. I don't want to lose you... my friends.

    If one of you is reading this, I'm likely gone now. Burn my body, take the ashes to the Baker or my family. If that's not possible then... Sera, take Briar for me, please. Thorin, keep the pendant I wear. Asriel, take the pages of this diary, and keep them. Silver, I'd like it if you could take anything that helps you keep these guys alive. Jordan... I want you to keep my sling. And any special bullets I have. Sell the rest, you won't need it. And... please. Never stop fighting for the greater good. It would mean the world to me.

May 09, 2017

Sample Writing- Battle Of the Strikers

     Long and exhausting the night's travel was, the trio were relieved to see a familiar sight. Dardun. Currently, their mission was to find Dar- and pass on good news. The Iron Ring, Karameikos' slaver trade, had been driven out of Highdell. Violet had another plan, though- planting ideas of destroying them once and for all. The Iron Ring had caused more than enough harm. 
    Riding into town, she- simultaneous to Sera and Jordan- realized things were slow-going. People were hungover, perhaps still intoxicated, from celebrating all night. Giving a shrug, the trio made their way through, taking the well-worn route to Dar's stables.
    Earlier, Dar had recruited them to driving the slavers away- something the six of them were out to do anyways. With the help of the residents, their quest had been a success- especially led by an escapee.
    Something felt wrong, though, approaching the stables. Everything was oddly quiet. Perhaps Dar was celebrating with them? He doesn't strike me as the type to do so... Dismounting, the trio walked inside.
    "Dar, we bring fortunate news! The slavers have been driven back!" Jordan's elation came through in his voice.
   Dar was sitting, facing away from the bunch, but didn't respond. Violet could feel it- an auric shift. Dar would never be non-responsive like this. Sera could feel too; slowly, the women approached.. but Sera stopped Violet. I'll look, you just hold on for a second. Violet nodded.
    Sera crept forward... and the way her eyes widened made all their blood run ice-cold. Jordan and Violet alike took a look, and we're sorry they did.
    Dar didn't answer, because he'd been flayed head to toe.
    Jordan's expression became unreadable, while Sera hardened in anger. Violet retreated, tears welling up in her eyes. Oh gods, not Dar... these people need him... it was him, I know it... This is all my fault, if I'd never come here, Dar would still be alive...
  Searing pain, and darkness blurred Violet's sight, clouding her thoughts. Blood, thick in the air, made her look to the glowing blade sticking out of her; sizzling of flesh and blood drew from the halfling fear...
    Jordan and Sera heard flowing liquid, sizzling, then looked up- stopping in their tracks. The pair beheld Violet's fear, the glowing blade, her blood everywhere... and the man who stood behind her. His hair red, streaked with black, matched the malevolent red-black eyes glaring, and the thin-lipped grin on his face. Embers flickered in the wake of his cloak. A Charred Genasi, the degeneration of Fire. A sickening relation to the two of them. Who in the gods is...
    "Hello there, 33572. It's been a long time since you left, dear." 
    A tear slid down Violet's face. This was Leviticus, the "Blood Angel" Violet had warned them about. 
    Stepping forward, pain intensified as Violet injured herself all over again. Turning around, He was surprised, possibly for the first time. Where He expected fear, tears and trembling, instead received an ice-cold amethyst stare. A strong, determined stance. Companions, where she once was alone. Leviticus paid little mind to the pair standing mere feet away; he had a likening for tormenting his own kind. The diminutive woman before him, however... She made him... uneasy. 
    "Hello to you too, Leviticus. You can call me Violet, and I'll ensure you never forget it!" With that, the bullet in her sling found an exposed bit of flesh- the pain that exploded within caught him by surprise. Seems the little bitch learned a few tricks... 
    No time was given to react, however; two of Sera's water arrows found its mark, cooling his perma-heated flesh. Jordan unleashed a powerful wave of thunder, throwing Leviticus across the room, into the wall. Fine, if they want to play... so be it. I'll remind her just who the Master was around here...
    Getting to his feet, Leviticus vanished in a wave of flame- only to reappear by Jordan's side. Heat from the Elemental Plane of fire roared through the portal, all of them reeling in pain. Three blades cut into the artificer, superheating him from the inside out. Jordan collapsed, unable to withstand the assault- especially since he'd been resurrected mere hours before.
    "Jordan! Damn you, Leviticus- you're gonna fucking pay for that!" Violet leapt over a table, mostly to escape the heat. She let off another bullet; this time the flinch was visible, and she grinned from a dark satisfaction. 
    "Sera- now!" Sera nodded, her anger focused to singularity on Leviticus. Another two arrows found their mark, steam beginning to rise. They hurt like the devils themselves. That's for Jordan, you twisted sonofabitch. 
    Leviticus knew the best course of action, and took it. Another portal of fire opened, and his sword cut the Storm Genasi without any seeming effort. She managed to hang in there, though blood flowed thick by now. Cut this one down, isolate his property... and remind her just why she didn't dare cross him, then or ever.
    Violet and Sera were somewhat outmatched, but every strike hit true, hailing blow after powerful blow on the Charred Genasi who had caused so much harm. Sera may have not understood the depths of Leviticus' depravity, nor what Violet endured at his twisted, sadistic hands. Sera did, however, have her own daemons to contend with- and this was a good way to exorcise them for a little while.
    Just as they were seeming to gain the upper hand, fate changed the battle again. Sera wound up dropping to the ground, blood loss and the assault from Leviticus too much for her to bear. It's exactly as I planned... Turning to Violet, the grin on his face seemed more depraved, determination renewed. He was re-gaining control, just as they planned.
    Violet backed up from him, rapidly losing the determination she had. Sera and Jordan were both unconscious. It was just them, a deadly dance undertaken by his hand. This isn't good... I'm on my own... Damn it, we should never have sent Silver back, we never should have come here... This is how things end, and it's my fault...
    Another voice popped into her head- Asriel's, of all people. Someone whom- though Violet wouldn't admit it out loud- was a source of comfort for her, a calming force in the chaotic maelstrom. "What a terrible way for your story to end. You should write a better one."
    And how does that help me here?!
    "Don't give up, Violet. You're more capable and a lot stronger than you think. Certainly more so than him. You know that."
    I'm really not sure, Asriel. I'm seriously freaking out here. Do you know what he's done to me and others?!
    "No. I can't get into your memories. I'm not really here, remember?"
    Right, forgot that part. And yet, here we are. Go figure.
    "Focus. Violet, you really CAN handle him. Get those two back on their feet, or- if you really can't do that- keep going. You've been doing pretty damn good so far, why stop now?"
    Yeah, you're right... remind me to thank you properly when we meet again.
    Violet looked over at him- every memory of him flashed through her head, and she came to one conclusion only: Leviticus had to be stopped. Right here, right now, no matter the cost. Internally steeling herself, Violet looked Leviticus dead in the eyes. "I'm not afraid of you anymore. So do your fucking worst, Leviticus." 
    Leviticus grinned deeper, a flash of insanity crossing his features. "I would be happy to, my dear."
    "Gotta take me down properly first, then." Jordan's voice cut into the tension, making both of them whip around. There Jordan stood, emanating soft green wisps of light. Having been resurrected so recently, the magic within still vibrated- giving him life once more when he needed it most. 
    Downing a healing potion, he cracked his neck gently. Leviticus' expression turned to one of rage; Violet's, relief. Jordan didn't care, though- his goal was to protect Violet and Sera. With a grin of the depraved, he set Violet up, giving her all she needed to give him what he deserved.
    Violet took it, hitting him with everything she had. All the rage, fear, memories- all of it behind the force of her blows. Leviticus looked worse for wear by this point, even as he attempted to take Jordan down once and for all. He could only take so much, and his resolve was cracking.
    With one final surge of determination, Violet loaded up another bullet. "This is for Dar... for Jordan, for Sera... for every wound inflicted on Silver, Thorin, and Asriel... for everyone you and your minions ever hurt. And most of all, this is for me. Now fucking die already!" 
    The bullet hit him right over the heart, the force too much to handle. Leviticus dropped to his knees, even as Violet strode over to him. Embers flared, glowing brighter... Glaring with all the hate he could, his fiery glance met her ice-cold one. 
    "Who am I?, darling?" Dropping to one knee, she sported her own dark grin. He glared at her, and she narrowed her gaze. "Say it."
    "Fuck you... 33572." Violet shoved him over, risking burning as ashes began to fill the air. She shoved her foot onto his chest, as hard as she could.    
    "Fucking say it!" Her voice rose to hysteria, she gripping the collar of his cloak.
    "Curse you to the Nine Fucking Hells, Violet!" Leviticus exploded, throwing her back. Ashes danced in the air, embers glowing vividly. Jordan watched her get to her feet, sensing the magic in the air. Leviticus was still here- he was the ashes and embers floating.
    "Violet?" His voice was soft, tense- unsure of how she'd react.
    "Get Sera on her feet. This battle is over. I just- where did he go?..."
    "Exploded into ashes. If you gather enough, you can revive him one day." As he spoke, Jordan moved, stabilizing Sera as he spoke. Violet gathered the ashes, placing them into a glass jar. A major victory was held here, and she knew it. She could let that part of her life settle- but guide her to do more for the world.

    Today, Leviticus. Tomorrow, the Iron Ring. One day, all slavery in existence.