Written by: Carrie Morganti (OOC)
A lone figure left the Keep of the Scarlet Torch after atteding to a small errand there, the commissioning of a new tunic to be made for her friend, Sir Raven. A heartfelt and somewhat solemn goodbye to her Kath-sisling, Lady Cassia, for she knew it would be the last time she would see her for a long while - the time of the vision ws at hand.
It was a cold night, the vault of the heavens seeming both remote and uncaring but strangely alive to her forest-born eyes - "Yes." she thought, "it is the time... Kal, please hold me to your heart. Protect your daughter, when she cannot..." The mantra of protection surging through her mind and heart. She was, truth be told, afraid. The double edged gift of prophesy had told her what was to come on this path, and she accepted this one, knowing that the other paths, though easier for her, were even less pleasant.
She started onto her trek back to Raven's cottage in Blackaver, even though she suspected that she would not make it - profesy had lied before, perhaps To was teasing her again. She strained her weakened senses for signs of the Beast, somewhere they were waiting, somewhere.... A shadow-like form struck out from the left - shadow form and shadow talons. the Wild-one dodged the first slash and parried with her little mace, knowing and witnessing it pass through the creature unharmed. "Magic and Silver. KA! Mercy, please!" She thought. The creature charged, sending her stumbling backward into the path. Cat-like, she squirmed sideways and dodged off the path into the brush near the road side. She'd hidden from worse creatures before, perhaps she could escape again. The creature however, pursued, not at all confused in the darkness of the underbrush, and three more Shadow beasts joined the hunt.
She ran, climbed, crawled and slunk, using every trick she knew to hide, but the creatures kept on, gaining ground, not tiring. She shed her cloak in the chase - it stuck on too many branches anyway. She prayed someone would find it, for her spell book had fallen with it. They eventually trapped her between them in the unfamiliar territoy of this foreign wood - a pack of shadowy forms circling like Jackals around a wounded Stag, waiting for Death, not daring to attack yet. Two more Beasts gathered, then four more, penning her in, allowing no escape. She tried to fight them, to strike out, but they merely waited for a strike to one while another took her legs, then arms. They took her mace away, and broke it over her, casting the peices away. One bravely grasped her spell focus and ripped it off, screaming in pain from the magic stored there. "Kal, hold me..."
"Well done, boys, well done. Though I must admit this was easier than I expected... T'isn't the Wood, now is it, Pure-One?" A humanoied figure, heavily cloaked, approached the circle of Shadow-beasts. Contemptuously, the figure crushed her focus under his boot and crouched atop her. Rat-like features swam before her, the reek of sweat and evil stunned her senses. "T'isn't the Wood at all, and the Master will be very pleased to see you, I'm sure." The Rat kicked her in the ribs, hard enough to stun, and with a backward snarl, ordered his troops to pick up the 'baggage' and get moving. Conciousness fading slowly from the pain of broken limbs and ribs, Tetch knew that To had not been teasing...
Raven picked up the soiled cloak with care, the only consolation in it being no sight of blood on it. Tetch had told him she'd be back soon, but that was two days ago, and he worried. Now he knew something was definitely wrong - for her spell book was in the folds. Clothing, perhaps, she could do without, her Nature being what it was, but her Magic? Not likely. Grimly, he followed the path she and her pursuers made in the underbrush. After hours of searching he found the broken remains of her little mace and the shattered focus. Here was the blood-sign he had dreaded to find, the evidence of a pitifully short fight - Tetch very obviously the loser. But whether she was just captured or was killed outright was unclear. There signs were muddled. The attacker's trail vanished, as did his hope for finding Tetch the mundane way. Reluctantly, he turned back for home, a Shadow Beast watching him from afar.
"Are you sure this is gonna work, Raven?" Jarrod asked skeptically. "Like, could Dec help you or something?" "Uh, no. It'll work, no problem. Done this at least a half dozen times with Tetch." Raven smiled, trying to hide his nervousness. "Well, ok. You know what you are doing..." Jarrod subsided. "The things I do for you..." Raven thought as he centered himself and very slowly stepped out of his body into the Dreaming. He was not comfortable here, at all, and definitely didn't like visiting alone. It was disconcertingly REAL here, kind of like Tetch was disconcertingly NATURAL. Too real to be real. Too sharp. "Gods, I'm not ready for this..." "Tetch?! TETCH! Where are you?!" "Raven?" A weak reply, drained, not quite right - like the odd time at Duckwater... Raven moved toward the voice, flying/walking/standing still... he REALLY didn't like it here. He found her quickly, (oh, too quickly - he thought he was going to be sick). She looked funny in the Dreaming - more animal.
Perhaps this was her true form, and not the one the Kal gave her when she left the Guardianship. His connection wasn't strong, making his senses spin.
"Tetch, what happened? Where are we?"
"I was attacked. I don't really know why. It was S-shadow Beasts and a Change-childe."
"How many are there? I'll come find you..." He was getting a sense for where she was, somewhere north of Blackavar, west of Tuath Fasach.
"No! It's too dangerous. There are too many..." She was fading from sight, he was losing the connection.
"Don't worry, we'll just find you, then we'll get reinforcements. He tried to be reassuring, truth be told, she did not look well.
"Promise me you won't attack - please don't. There are too many." She sounded desperate, the link was rapidly weakening.
"I won't attack, I promise. We're just going to find you -"
"We? Who's we?"
"Jarrod and me -"
"Raven, listen to me! Don't come! Jarrod won't retreat -" The link severed abruptly, as if chopped off with a battle axe.
Raven promptly fell out of rapport. "Won't retreat? Of course he'll retreat. He's not stupid." He took a few minutes to collect himself before coming out of trance.
"Well? Any luck?" Jarrod asked when Raven stood up.
"Yeah, I think I know where we can start looking..."
The Rescue: Part Three
"Well, whelp, are you going to be a good little slave or are we going to have to beat you some more?" The Rat looked down at his prisoner with hatred. She was not going to be easy to break. He'd already tried the standard ways of torture: Rape, burning, blinding, slow mutilation - she screamed, yes, but she didn't become more cooperative in the least - as a matter of fact she became more stubborn and his mage sight showed him her link to the forest, though pitifully weak compared to a Guardian's, was growing stronger with each day of starvation and each mutilation. If he could only break that link, or find some sort of psychological torture to help, perhaps then he would be more inclined to cooperate... He didn't dare kill her, he didn't want to risk losing her soul entirely or allowing her to gain more of a link to the Wild. He'd sent two of the Shadow Pack back to the stronghold to get a spell from the Master to shatter than damned link, but they had not yet returned. One of the Pack had reported that some mage-talented human had found the Wild-One's mace, focus and cloak, and that this man seemed to take an interest in the battle-site. Perhaps that human could be the link Childre needed to break her. Break the human until her hero complex took over to save him... or break him and use him to break her... Either way, the human would be a good bargaining tool.
The Wild-One was sending her soul out - that's not good. Childre was about to build a soul net around her when he sensed the other presence there.
"Hmmm..." Carefully, Childre slipped half into the Dreaming - a ghost within the ghost world. He listened to her and the Man-Knight Raven's conversation and chopped it short when she started to warn him not to come - Childre wanted him to come, he even gave Raven a place to start looking. Now all it would take was patience.
"There they are." Blade pointed out the group of Shadow Beasts carrying a stretcher-like object, a small curled form inert atop it. "There's only those four from what I can see. We can take 'em, c'mon." Without waiting for a reply, he, Daro, Niko, Kara and Marcus charged down the hill at the Shadow Beasts and Tetch. Jarrod gave a backward glance and a wry grin to Raven as he too charged. "C'mon Raven - the water's warm!" He called gleefully.
"But - we agreed to go back!" Raven sighed and started down the hill after Folkestone, when something sharp neatly ran him through. As he fell backward, transfixed by the sight of a foot of blade poking through his chest, he vaguely recognized the sound of Folkestone screaming, and saw a huge rat gloating over him. "Bummer," he though before Death came to claim him.
"Not bad, not bad at all." Childre thought as he threw Raven's limp form onto the heap that was Folkestone. The fighters were good, and if their blades were able to affect the Shadow Pack Childre had no doubt these fighters would have freed the whelp and his new bartering tool. But alas, they were not prepared for the Pack. The servant hid all information of the War and the Master's creatures very well indeed. Their loss, however, was Childre's gain. These fighters would make very good soldiers for him, and he didn't need their souls to cooperate. Pulling the non-mage gifted out from the pile, Childre summoned a couple of the Mach-med-dren to possess them. He Looked over the "Talents" of the remaining fighters. Only one of these was strong enough to resist the Mach-med-dren, so he had the weaker ones possessed as well. The strongest, a short, dark haired fellow, radiated a strong level of Druidic healing magic. He would be useful. So long as Childre didn't ask him to do anything too radically against his nature, perhaps he would serve as one of the Mach-med-dren.
Adding a little extra mana to the summoning and binding, Childre possessed him as well. As the new servants starting re-animating by the power of the Mach-med-dren within them, Childre took the Druid aside. "Hellow, may I ask your name, sir?" Polite, very polite, and maybe he wouldn't notice I'm not human... "Dec-" A slow, almost dead voice. "Decion Galen."
"Could you do me a favor, Decion?" Nice, very nice. Sensible...
"Uh, depends on the favor..." The voice of the healer was starting to gain strength. Childre could sense some rebellion, some free will. He'd have to be very careful with this one.
"Could you raise someone for me?" Childre watched as Dec contemplated the request. He looked to one of the fighters, the one with the black shaggy hair, as if to get permission. "Ah, the leader." Childre surmised.
"Excuse me, M'Lord. Would you mind if your fine healer were to help me for a while?" Childre asked the tall fighter.
"No, no, of course not," the parasite answered immediately. "Dec, do what he asks. He's cool."
The reluctant Druid relaxed visibly. "Who do you need Raised?"
Childre grinned. "Well, there's this fellow, Raven - he seems to be dead..."
Beautiful, simply beautiful.
Raven screamed again, weakly compared to when the torture began, but a raw throat can't scream very well. Even though she had been catatonic during the worst of her torture, she couldn't entirely escape from the sounds of his pain. There was silence. Perhaps someone had stopped the madness... Tetch looked up with hope - which was instantly dashed when she saw Blade vicously slash Raven's stomach open. Tetch moved toward Blade, or tried to, but found her limbs were still broken. She looked hopelessly at Raven, reaching out to him with her spirit (the only thing they hadn't broken yet,) trying to comfort him as he died again.
"I'm dead again, aren't I?" Raven stated bluntly. At least in the dreaming he was whole, even though the pain haunted him here too.
"Yes." Tetch answered quietly. She felt so helpless, these was nothing she could do to save him. If she could just... leave, or something... Raven sensed Tetch pulling away, her spirit flagging under the double torture.
"You're quitting on me, aren't you?"
"No." She wouldn't quit on him, no matter how much it hurt.
"Then why are you hiding out there?"
"Hiding?" She didn't understand.
"Yeah, hiding. You aren't even conscious out there, you're just lying there, not even looking for a way out. You're just letting them do this to you."
Raven was relentless. He wasn't trying to hurt her, just trying to get her to move on her own.
"I can't do anything, Raven. I don't have anything to work with. I can't even reach the Kal. They won't help me." Tetch whimpered, wanting escape.
"I don't have my magic. I gave up the Guardianship. There's nothing I can do."
"You can stop hiding out there." Raven thought of a new approach to goad her into action. "Maybe the Kal are testing you..."
"Why? How would this be a test?" Raven wasn't making any sense.
"Maybe they want to see if you can stand up for yourself. You gave up the Guardianship, maybe they want to see if you can function without them. You were created by them, right?"
"Well, like parents sometimes do, maybe they want to see if their child can handle things on her own. Maybe they want to see how you'll deal with this, whether or not you should be out here. But by hiding you're not doing anything..."
"But they're hurting you! I can't just listen to that! I can't..." Tetch started to curl up, even here.
"Don't worry about me, okay. Whatever happens, don't give up. Look, one of us has to keep an eye open for a way to escape, and since they are having so much fun working me over, it will have to be you."
"Okay, Raven. Okay."
Decion was confused. Childre kept having him go out on errands, to get spell components and things, and every time he came back, usually several hours later, Raven would be dead. It was just odd. But Jarrod didn't seem to think anything was wrong, so he kept on Raising Raven.
One night, after most of the others were asleep, Dec woke up. Something was bothering him. He didn't feel quite right, like he was forgetting something.
"Dec?" A whisper, off to his right. "Could you help me out?"
"Huhn?" Dec walked toward the voice. He found Tetch, looking quite haggard and scrawny. Her limbs were all broken.
"Could you heal these?" Odd question, wasn't she a healer? Couldn't she do that?
"Uh, sure, I guess." He still felt like he was forgetting something. "Adu akaba..."
Childre believed it was safe to return to the new fortress. He thought that the Pure One was helpless enough, even though she was not yet broken. Out of spite, he chained her onto Raven and slashed his throat, letting his blood pump out warm onto her. He wanted her as catatonic as possible when he entered her former homeland, the Forest called the Northern Wilds. Setting up a strong phalanx of the Mach-med-dren possessed fighters and Shadow Pack, Childre entered the Dark Wood. He did not notice the slight humanoid form in the upper branches of the old oak, the frantic whisper - that sounded for all the world like wind in the trees, though there was no breeze - that all the path grew alive with, or the large, dark figure that responded to that whisper. The Shadow Pack became nervous, that was the only thing Childre noticed. Sensitive to magic, it was likely that the Wood itself was bothering them. He let it pass. A loud neighing - like a cross between a war-horse's challenge and a lion's roar - assaulted the party first. Automatically, Folkestone stopped and went into a strong defensive stance. The Shadow Pack saw the Challenger first - Jaymir, the black unicorn - horn dimly glowing with suppressed light. The Pack charged it and Jaymir, again breying his battle-cry, charged to greet them. Enchanted Hooves and Magic Horn punctured, slashed and crushed shadow forms, the Pack very vulnerable to the Creature's Light.
In the midst of the battle, the Wild-One who had been waiting for such an opportunity, freed herself from her bonds, grabbed Raven and ran into the Wilds, yelling in her strange tongue to what appeared to be no one. Childre, noticing his fleeing prize, ordered Folkestone to get her. Grimly they all followed, except for Decion, who seemed to be transfixed by the sight of the unicorn.
All Childre ever really became aware of was the sounds - the creaking of wood, the clacking of branches, the rending of cloth and flesh, the scream of metal being ripped apart, the gurgle of throats being unable to scream out with the penultimate agony of being torn apart by every tree, bush and shrub able to reach them - the mighty warriors of Folkestone, reduced to quivering mounds of bloody flesh in seconds - hearts not rent by beating with borrowed life.
Childre turned tail and ran for the safety of the fields beyond the Wood, hoping beyond hope that the trees could not reach him while he was in the path. The trees seemed to be cooperating with his wish - they did not try to stop him - the safety of the fields beckoned him - he could see them. Only a few steps away. Only a few steps. Then he heard the pounding of hooves, the enraged howl of the Captive and the Unicorn combined in terrible, final unity. The trees reached out for him then, almost tenderly, and forced him
to take the charge of the Unicorn spread-eagled - the Pure One riding bare backed atop the beast - golden slitted eyes and bared fangs blazing with the reflected light of the Unicorn's horn.
He was surprised at how little it hurt.
"Awaken, Raven, Walk in the forever place no longer." Raven came to that call. Opening his eyes he looked upon the Tetch that he saw in the Dreaming: fanged, clawed, furred and feathered - the former guardian. He tried to move away from her, tried to run, but he was so weak, so tired... "Rest easy, bro-henna, we are free..."
"How - Free?"
"The woods remembered me." She answered.
"Healed of possession and injury and sent home." A pause. "It wasn't their fault."
"Tired," he croaked.
'sleep, then," she replied, and pointed to another figure nearby. A Unicorn.
"He will guard us for now."
Quiet. Sleep. Nightmares-pain-Pain-NO ESCAPE-Blade-PAIN-PAIN!!
"Raven?! Bro-henna? Shhhh-shhh... It's Okay. We're free."
Quiet. No Sleep. No sleep... never sleep...
"Thank you for coming for me."
Quiet. Anger. Ignore HER. Sleep. Sleep.
Created by Cain (Jay Bonci) at 05-01-07 01:03 PM
Last Modified by Faelinn Shadowmoon (Leanne Micciche) at 04-05-08 10:26 AM
Last Modified by Faelinn Shadowmoon (Leanne Micciche) at 04-05-08 10:26 AM